Women’s Cooperative

Part I

Step 1: Determine the facts of the situation:
– In the region of East Africa, approximately 35% of children are stunted due to nutritional deficits, and there is a high HIV rate.
– Currently, mothers integrate gruel with breastfeeding from age of 2 months to 24 months. This gruel is not very nutritious (however the mothers believe it is), and could also contain pesticide residues.
– The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months; however, in mothers with HIV, breastfeeding is not recommended as it increases the chance of HIV transmission
– We are assuming this case study is taking place in the past, and so there are neither HIV testing nor ART treatments available
– I am an entrepreneur starting a cooperative for women in this region
– The cooperative has a dual goal: (1) improve the nutritional status of the children by making a more nutritious porridge (in stead of the traditional gruel), using local produce (possibly contains pesticides), and (2) improve the livelihoods of the women in the cooperative by providing them an income
– This cooperative is funded by a grant
– The main ethical concerns which has to be addressed is how to implement this venture considering the high HIV rate and pesticide use. Is it more important to focus on avoiding HIV transmission (eating porridge with pesticides) or focus on nutrition (exclusive breastfeeding is the gold standard for infants)?

Step 2: Define the stakeholders:
– Mothers
– Children
– Donor
– Me (the entrepreneur)
– Women in the cooperative
– Local farmers

Step 3: Assess the motivations of the stakeholders
– Mothers: The mothers primary motivation is that they want their children to be healthy. This includes reducing the risk of HIV infection, not letting their children be negatively impacted by pesticides, and for them to be properly nourished
– Children: The children are directly affected by the breastfeeding and gruel. Their health is impacted by HIV transmission, pesticides, and the nutrients they obtain
– Donor: The donor’s primary motivation is for a successful cooperative which increases their reputation, and accomplishes the dual goals they intended to support.
– Me (the entrepreneur): My primary motivation is to make as much impact as possible and to accomplish my dual goals of providing a nutrias porridge for the children in the community, and ensure the cooperative is built sustainably so that the women in the cooperative can improve the livelihoods of their families.
– Women in the cooperative: The primary motivations of the women in the cooperative is to bring a stable income to support their families, and to use that money to improve the livelihoods of their children.
– Local farmers: Local farmers want to make money selling their crops, and therefore would want to sell their products to the cooperative since it would ensure.a stable income.

Step 4: Formulate alternative solutions

Since we are assuming that this community does not have access to ARTs (and HIV is therefore a death sentence), we decided that ethically, the priority of this venture should be on providing a healthy porridge option which can be implemented at a very young age in newborns, in order to minimize the risk for HIV transmission. Because of this, our solutions focused on the best ways to prepare porridge in the cooperative (in order to minimize the harm of pesticides).

1. Have the cooperative grow their own produce (pesticide-free), and employ more local women to do so. This solution is based on the duty-based ethical principle, which focuses on “do only that which you would want everyone to do.” In other words, we would not want out children and communities eating crops stayed with pesticides.
– There are many pros to this approach. First, it creates additional jobs for the women. Additionally, it is the only way we can ensure the crops are pesticide free, since we would be in full control of the crops.
– There are also several cons to this approach. First, it is probably the most expensive option, since we would have to obtain all of the infrastructure for farming, and would have to train all of the additional workers. Second, this could potentially harm the community, since we could be putting other farmers our of business.

2. As part of the porridge-making procedure at the cooperative, include a wash step. This is based on the virtue-based ethical principle, where ethics often times relies on judgement, and what is “honest” depends on the culture. Specifically, the gruel which children are using currently probably contains pesticides. Although this approach does not guarantee the removal of pesticides, it is a better alternative to the current gruel (more nutritious and less pesticides), and still helps to reduce HIV transmission.
– There are many pros to this approach. First, washing theoretically should remove pesticides from the food, eliminating any health challenges which may result from having pesticides in the porridge. Additionally, we accomplish our goals of creating a healthy, nutritious porridge, without needing costly investments like mentioned in solution 1.
– There are also several cons to this approach. Although washing technically should make remove pesticides, it is hard to measure if the wash step is effective, or if the procedure is being followed correctly. Additionally, the water we use to wash the food may not be clean, so we would still have to invest in a filtration system or risk causing more harm than good.

3. Develop a vitamin supplement powder which can be added to gruel so that the children can continue eating gruel but be more nourished. This solution is based on consequence-based thinking, focused on the benefits outweighing the costs. Although the children would still be eating pesticide-contaminated gruel, they would at least be getting the nutrients they need.
– There are many pros to this approach. First, this approach is probably the easiest to implement, since the women are already used to giving gruel to their kids. Additionally, because we are using the basic recipe, it is probably the cheapest option. Finally, this approach solves the malnourishment problem, and prevents the need for breastfeeding (therefore preventing HIV transmission).
– There are also several cons to this approach. First, the gruel the supplements would be added to may still contain pesticides. Second, the supplements may not be as nutritious as incorporating healthy foods. And finally, this approach probably requires hiring the least amount of women for the cooperative, since the supplements would be imported. Since the dual goal of this venture is to provide employment opportunities for the women to help them improve their livelihoods, this is a significant negative.

Step 5: Seek additional assistance
My primary resource for helping to determine the best course of action for this particular dilemma was to speak with individuals from the malnutrition team, who are working on a very similar project. They explained that they have learned incorporating whole, nutrias foods into children’s diets is important, but that supplements can be effective too if they are needed.

Step 6: Select the best course of action
In my opinion, the best course of action is approach two: washing the produce with filtered water to remove the pesticides. Like all three options, this solution will help prevent HIV transmission by allowing a healthy alternative to breastfeeding, while also creating employment opportunities. However, this solution was chosen as it best upholds the interests of all of the stakeholders, and is the cheapest, healthiest option. Specifically, this solution accomplishes the dual goals of providing a healthy, pesticide free, nutritious gruel alternative, while also maximizing employment opportunities for women (unlike the supplement solution) without taking away from local farmers (like solution one). Additionally, it is better than solution 1 because it is cheaper, and better than solution 3 because using nutrias whole foods is better than using supplements.

Step 7: What are the implications of your solution on the venture
Socially, this solution will have positive impacts on the venture, since it will maximize employment opportunities for women in the cooperative, without taking away from local farmers. Economically, this solution is a good option for the venture, since it avoids expensive investments (using local produce instead of starting a new farm). Additionally, by using local produce from farmers who are already established is a very economically sustainable option, since there will be very little maintenance or unexpected costs in the future for the cooperative. Environmentally, this solution is neutral. Unfortunately, our solution does not prevent pesticide use, which is bad for the environment. However, since pesticides are already being used, our solution does not specifically have an impact on the environment. Finally, this solution does not really have any technological impacts, since there is no new technology being developed.

Part II

Step 1: Determine the facts of the situation:
– See Part I, Step 1
– Six months after the launch, the cooperative is thriving
– Women work 9 hours a day, maybe KES 300, and have the opportunity to sell the produce grown on their farms to the cooperative
– Strong sense of community and identity at the cooperative
– Only problem is that when the women bring their earnings home, the women must turn the money over to the men in the family, who often waste it on frivolous things instead of helping the livelihoods of they families.
– I as the entrepreneur am on the leadership committee for the next six months
– The other six members on the committee are locals who understand the problem and want things to change
– The women in the cooperative are convinced nothing can be done because thats just the way it is in their community.

Step 2: Define the problem and stakeholders:
– The main problem is that the women are not able to use their earnings to support their families like they want to, but the community culture means that they have to give the money to the men in their families. Although we are not sure on the specific culture, asking the women to defy the culture could be dangerous for them, since the men could get angry. How can we continue to push for the dual goals fo the cooperative without putting the women in a bad position?
– There are several stakeholders in this problem: Me (the entrepreneur), the women in the cooperative, the children, and the men who are taking the money

Step 3: Determine and distinguish between the personal and professional motivations of the stakeholders
– Me, the entrepreneur: As an entrepreneur focused on social impacts, my personal and professional motivations are probably the same. Specifically, I want the cooperative to be successful and to achieve the twin social outcomes of financially empowering the women and providing nutritious foods for the infants in the region.
– The women in the cooperative: Personally, the women in the cooperative want to make money to support heir families, and for their children to be healthy. They probably also want to make sure their husbands (and other men in their families) are happy, and that they maintain a good relationship. Professionally, the women probably want the cooperative to be successful, to make money from the cooperative and their farms, and to work in a positive, community-focused cooperative.
– The children of the women in the cooperative: The children are personally motivated by their mother’s ability to provide for them and take care of them.
– The men of the women in the cooperative: The primary personal motivations of the men is that they want to be in charge of the money (as is the cultural norm), and want to be respected by their wives. In addition to taking care of their families, they probably also want to be able to enjoy themselves (and spend money on frivolous things).

Step 4: Formulate alternative solutions
1. Compensate the women in goods (for example, food, personal care products, etc) instead of money
– The primary pro for this approach is that the women are able to use their time at the cooperative to support their families, instead of having the money wasted on frivolous things by their husbands.
– The primary con for this approach is that the husbands may be upset that the women are not bringing any money back, and the women may be less willing to work long hours without monetary compensation. Additionally, it may be hard logistically to determine what the women want and need.
– This approach saves face for the women because they do not have to directly face their husbands about wasting the money, but are still getting what they want in terms of providing for their families. Additionally, this solutions saves face for the cooperative, because it would now be achieving its twin goals.
– In the short term, this approach may negatively impact the relationships within the families, since the men may be angry at the women for note bringing money home any more. In the long term, however, the family will hopefully be better off.
– In the short term, this approach will have positive implications on the venture since the women and children will be receiving things that they need (improving the livelihoods of the women, one of the goals). In the long term, the children may have more resources are be better nourished, but the cooperative may have trouble finding new women to join since there is no monetary reward.

2 .Instead of paying the women KES 300 per day, pay them KES 150 and provide KES 150 in equivalent coupons for them to exchange for food and personal products.
– The primary pro for this approach is that it is easier to integrate into families, since they are receiving both cash (which the husbands expect) and the products they need (improving the livelihoods of their families).
– The primary con for this approach, however, is that the men can still waste a lot of the money. Additionally, it may be challenging to determine which products should be offered in exchange for the coupons.
– This approach saves face for the women by allowing them to still bring money for their husbands, while they are still able to purchase (indirectly) the products they need for their families. Additionally, it saves face for the cooperative since it allows for the dual goals to be accomplished.
– In the short term, this approach may still have negative implications in the relationships within the family, since the men may still be upset at having less control over the income. – In the long term, families will hopefully get used to this way of compensation and the relationships will restrengthen.
– In the short and long term, this will hopefully have positive implications on the venture, since it will allow for the accomplishment of the twin goals (by allowing for the improved livelihoods of the families).

3. Give the women the option to receive shares in the cooperative instead of receiving cash. These shares will increase in value, and can be liquidated for a large lump sum of money.
– The primary pro for this approach is that the women will still be receiving money (therefore making the men happy), but because they would receive it in larger quantities, the men are less likely to spend it on frivolous things, and more likely to spend it on an investment, like purchasing animals for a farm.
– The primary con to this approach is that it does not immediately enable the women to help their children, and the men would still be in control of how the money is spent.
– This approach saves face for the women by allowing them to still bring money for their husbands, but in a different more, long-term focused way. Additionally, it saves face for the cooperative since it allows for the dual goals to be accomplished.
– In the short and long term, this approach probably will not impact the familial relationships too much, since the men are still receiving money and are ultimately entirely in control of how it is spent.
– In the short term, this option will not positively impact the venture, since the women won’t be able to use the money immediately to help their families. In the long term, however, it could significantly aid the women in improving the livelihoods of their families, by allowing them to invest in things which they need for the family.

Step 5: Seek additional assistance
In oder to make sure that the approaches were appropriate, I made sure to consider points made during class discussions, and to read about cooperatives (this allowed me to see how option 3 is feasible).

Step 6: Select the best course of action
In my opinion, the best course of action is approach two, because it allows for a win-win with all stakeholders, and allows for the twin goals of the cooperative to be best accomplished. Specifically, this solution is a win-win because the women get coupons which they can exchange for products and nutritious food which they need for their family, while the men get the money they expect based on the culture. Additionally, unlike option 3, this solution allows for the livelihoods of the women and their families to improve immediately, and unlike option 1, doesn’t jeopardize the future of the cooperative (men might not allow the women to keep working if they’re not bringing back any income. The primary challenge for this method is that it may be difficult to choose which products are available for the women to use their coupons on. This can easily be fixed however by making sure the women have an active say in how the strategy is operationalized.

Step 7: Sequence of actions to implement solution
– Survey the women in the cooperative about their opinions on implementing solution 2, on what products they would want available to them, and on any concerns they may have about how the men may handle the transition
– Obtain products in bulk to minimize costs, and set up prices / coupon system.
– If the women expressed any concerns about their husbands in the initial survey, make sure to address those concerns during the transition (for example, by sending a notification to the men about the change in payment structure, so that the women are not responsible for telling their husbands, therefore helping them to save face).
– Change the women’s income to cash plus coupons.

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