In good company

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I love the success stories. Who doesn’t, right? Well, today my heart swelled with pride after hearing the story of the Intamakuphila Farmers Association, a company focused on sustainable sugar production, and its young chairman. In the Swazi language, “Intamakuphila” literally means “earning a living.” In the USA, we would call their business model a cooperative. Farmers banded together across 253 local hectares (roughly 607 acres) to pool their efforts, resources and costs (like pumps to get river water to farm land and overhead irrigation sprinklers). They have a professionally run organization chaired by a young farmer who’s family personally farms 60 hectares. He also works full-time as a farm manager for another cooperative in the area and somehow finds time to lead cooperative meetings weekly. We arrived on a day when they were being audited by Fair Trade. They have successfully negotiated 68.9% return on net profits from the Swaziland Sugar Association per metric ton and sell Fair Trade sugar for $60 per ton on the open market. The operation had a true, committed focus on employee safety that rivaled Fortune 500 companies. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. I am thankful to have been in good company with farmers who simply wanted to provide a better life not just for their families but also the improving their community. You can cross oceans and be on a different continent but initiative and enterprise drive success. .

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