Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1997
Cooperação Asplande (Assessoria & Planejamento para o Desenvolvimento)


This profile was prepared when Dayse Maria Valença Ferreira was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Dayse Valença is promoting work cooperatives as viable solutions to Brazil's persistent unemployment problem. She is creating an environment in which work cooperatives can be entrepreneurial in their business practice, while simultaneously remaining true to the cooperative's ideal of self-governance and participatory membership.Dayse seeks to extend the role of work cooperatives beyond the realm of employment and income generation by using them as effective tools through which often-disenfranchised members can engage in successful, participative processes to surmount many of their pressing social problems.
Dayse's approach combines innovative training for emerging and existing cooperatives, linking cooperatives in similar industries to create professional networks, and pushing for important legislative change regarding the formation and regulation of cooperatives. Dayse's business management model enables members of small cooperatives to gain management skills, connect to markets, and govern themselves. Dayse provides training in basic marketing skills, planning, product development, legal issues, market research, pricing, and sales techniques. Unlike many other projects in the income generation arena in which the training is formulaic and finite, Dayse's model does not stop with training. She offers ongoing support and extensive follow-up tailored to each cooperative's needs. Dayse also orients members to the unique aspects of cooperative organizational management.
Dayse's idea is a significant step forward in the arena of creative income generation and microenterprise development. "Development isn't as simple as [providing credit and promoting microenterprises]. When poor entrepreneurs move past one relatively simple profitable activity, they usually can't connect with markets and don't have enough management capacity to run larger businesses. [T]here's got to be some kind of intervention that connects people to markets and adds management talent. And very few organizations have figured out how to do that on a cost-effective basis at scale." Dayse is providing precisely this missing link, and creating the conditions through which cooperatives' economic success will spill over into a series of social and community development activities.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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