A case study of Eudafano Women’s Cooperative

More than half the population of Namibia (approximately 1.9million) lives in
marginalised rural communities where rainfed agriculture often results in poor yields
and social amenities such as electricity, running water, health and schooling facilities
are scarce or unavailable.

The creation of sustainable income
generation opportunities in these marginalised rural areas is therefore of paramount
importance, especially to women, who are often responsible for the upbringing of
children and meeting other household needs.

Despite being marginalised, this rural
landscape has abundant natural resources such as Marula trees that are easy to harvest
and are also prolific bearers of fruit. Traditionally, the Marula fruit has been used as a
food supplement by the San and the Ovambo peoples.

The kernel is crushed to extract
a stable cooking-oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids (Ref) while fresh fruit is used for
producing Marula juice that is consumed fresh or fermented into beer.
In recent years, Marula kernels were identified as high potential resources for both
domestic consumption and the export market.

This was the driving force behind the
formation of the Eudafano Women’s Cooperative (EWC) in northern Namibia. The
Eudafano Women’s Cooperative was the brainchild of rural women in Namibia’s four
north central regions, namely Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Oshana and Omusati regions,
the then Namibian Department of Women's Affairs and Namdeb Diamond
Corporation.

The former The Namdeb Social Fund provided financial support in
excess of N$1 million (US$156 000) as well as equipment and business ideas at the
start of the cooperative. Eudafano Women’s Cooperative was registered in 1999 with
the aim:
“to promote the economic and social interests of its member group women by
providing effective services to its members according sound business principles and
the requirements of the market”
The Cooperative uses a unique business model that brings together rural women with
leading business partners such as the Body Shop International from the United
Kingdom.
The EWC comprises approximately 4,800 women. It comprises of 14 associations in
different villages in the north of Namibia – Ovamboland with their headquarters in
Ondangwa