The Wawoto Kacel cooperative allows its members – vulnerable people of the Gulu district (Northern Uganda) – to maintain a personal and social dignity through their work.
We have helped the cooperative to find a balance between its therapeutic and its productive functions by strengthening the section leaders – responsible for the production sections.
Situated in the Gulu district (North Uganda), the goal of the Wawoto Kacel cooperative is to support people in a state of great vulnerability
caused by disease and poverty, offering work and a community of people that take care of one another.
The members of the Wawoto Kacel cooperative create handmade jewellery, textile products and other local artifacts.
Wawoto Kacel is sustained, partially, thanks to revenue from the sales of their products,
and partly thanks to international donations, in particular by the Italian association Good Samaritan.
The cooperative enables its members to have a socially recognized occupation, a full mean and a monthly salary.
The cooperative also furnish medical support and a small internal system of microcredit. In the words of one of its members:
[The Wawoto Kacel cooperative] started as a therapy centre, but now it is transforming into a business organization.
This cooperative has two goals: the first is to offer social support to its members, the second one is sustainability.
The MAPS team was asked to strengthen the organizational structure of Wawoto Kacel
in order to maintain the best possible compromise between the therapeutic functions and the productive necessities.
The MAPS intervention included a first, indispensable, collection and analysation of relevant material through which a unique “photo” was developed of the functions and characteristics of Wawoto Kacel. Particularly, the photo showed the role of the section leaders who are important points of reference to the members throughout the realization of the different activities inside the sections. Using the GENERATIVE method, the team continued by gathering documents, conducting focus groups and interviews with people occupying various roles inside the structure. In this way, a precise vision of the cooperative and its delicate balance between the two dimensions of production and welfare was obtained. This vision made it clear that the role of the section leader was still little defined.
The meticulous worked allowed the identification of a series of guiding questions for the intervention plan:
What kind of responsibility and autonomy is expected and can be given to the section leaders? What kind of tools can be given to the section leaders to realize in an adequate manner their role? Is it possible to change the ways in which the section leaders are handling and supervising the work without distorting the delicate relation between the various visions and expectations placed on the cooperative by its members?
The strategic key that was used for this project was to identify some possible practical changes in the way they operate. During this process, not only the section leaders were involved, but everyone who works with them. This including strategy allows them to reach their expected goals without feeling that their role is too “uncomfortable” or difficult to understand.
With this goal in mind various meetings were conducted to identify and discuss expectations placed on the different roles of the cooperative and its main purposes, promoting a shared vision.
We have further realized a series of interactive training programs on themes connected to leadership and group management, as well as workshops on collective problem solving to identify alternatives to inefficient procedures. These actions managed to find and strengthen the already present resources and acknowledges by the cooperative system, using them as pieces in the construction of successful alternatives.
Thanks to the interventions, the section leaders now have an explicit role and precise work tools. Now, the Wawoto Kacel cooperative has an organizational structure that manages to successfully locate itself between the needs of its members and the ever-changing requests of the market.