Model Project Update*
Cooperative Enterprise – Maximum Utilization of Local Resources – Local Self-Reliance – Employment with a Living Wage – Ethical Leadership – Women’s Empowerment
What is OroqCoco?
OroqCoco aims to create a working model of a Proutistic cooperative in Oroquieta City, Maharlika. The goal is to put the principles of Prout into practice and establish a successful producers’ cooperative that gives meaningful employment to hundreds, and eventually thousands, of people in the city.
Goals and Measurements of Success
The cooperative should apply and adhere to Prout’s principles and maximally utilize both material and human resources. Each member should have a share in the cooperative, a living wage and work according to their capacity, while encouraging the development of each member’s all round potential. The cooperative’s leadership should be made up of people with a proven track record of community service, good character, ethical conduct, and ongoing personal and spiritual development.
Ideally the cooperative will be supported by the local government and also generate interest both inside and outside the city from people who want to implement this model themselves. The project will hopefully be reproduced in other cities of Maharlika and around the world.
Work Done (2018 – 2019)
Dada Dharmavedananda (a yogic monk) and Ma’am Alay, a city councilor at the time, identified the surplus and under-utilization of the city’s coconuts. Dada found a coconut expert who volunteered his services and trained the people how to create twelve different products from coconuts. Ma’am Alay Ruvy secured funding from the provincial government to construct six production centers in the rural districts, so that people can work close to home.
Dada Dharmavedananda, Angel (Coconut expert), Jason Almonte (Former mayor), Alay Ruvy (Councillor in Provincial Govt), Johan and some of our friends
June, 2019: an initial roadmap was defined; we identified twelve potential products, and agreed upon a budget for the start-up production centers. Early on the most important task was to connect with the people. Each day then consisted of visiting one of the six districts to dialogue with and encourage the people there to construct their production centers. Many were also introduced to the practices of meditation and yoga
September, 2019: the first production center was inaugurated; three local women were inspired by the vision and started working every day to establish production capability of the first product, the Coco “Soy” Sauce. They did so without pay. This went on for a month or two before we could perfect the product and get some initial sales, from which they could get their compensation.
December, 2019: the second production center was completed and another group of people started making Virgin Coconut Oil.
We have finalized our first five products and have been selling them locally since February 2020. Our brand name “OroqCoco” has become known in the city and we’ve been fulfilling orders from our Central Unit.
An additional three products are under development and will be ready to market in about a week: Balsamic Coconut Vinegar, Coco Aminos and Spicy Coco Aminos.
Prize of 5M PHP for Best Local Product
One of our products won a government competition with a prize of 5.000.000 PHP = $100.000 USD. This money is earmarked to construct a new central processing unit and gift shop for the cooperative. We eagerly await the necessary bureaucratic process to be completed.
The cooperative has 81 members who are ready and eager to work and who have put up their own money to be members of the cooperative. When production is going on, some 10 to 15 people are gainfully employed each week. Unfortunately production was paused in both of our operational centers, as well as our Central Processing Unit, during this COVID-19 period.
We hired a community organizer who has been liaising with the people, setting up production and financial reporting systems, arranging contracts about the land ownership, and much more. We’ve established our Central Processing Unit (CPU), where all products are delivered in bulk containers for final quality control, packaging and labeling. The CPU is also the location of our Central Office which handles the administrative tasks, policy making, marketing, payroll, planning and much more. Three local people plus myself are working full time in the CPU to move forward on all fronts.
We enjoy really great relationships with our people here, they understand the vision of what we’re doing more and more and they trust that we have their best interests at heart.
Prout Study Circles
Every week we invite 2 people from each production unit to the Central unit for our Prout based study circle, using Tools to Change the World.
This has become tremendously valuable – the people share their experiences and feelings regarding issues such as poverty, wage inequality, and destruction of natural habitats. This helps all to more deeply understand these problems and how they have manifested in their own lives. They also learn about what Prout envisions to replace these flawed systems. We share and discuss what such a world might look and feel like. The meetings are usually very inspiring. It really helps us to understand how together we can make a better reality in the cooperative and our city.
The study circle is part of our leadership training and it will be mandatory for all our management staff in the near future.
Management staff members are additionally involved in ongoing discussions, with qualified mentors, to define clear guidelines for the smooth functioning of any Prout based cooperative. We aim for outcomes that can be useful for all future projects.
Board Member Election
On June 11th the cooperative held its first General Assembly and elected their board members. Several city officials and elected politicians as well as the former Mayor attended and addressed the crowd. Our community organizer, the former Mayor, a retired expert in cooperatives, a young and dynamic employee and I won the five seats. This means we will now have more possibilities to further implement Prout’s principles and policies into our operations.
Food & Drug Administration Approval
We’re working on getting FDA approval with the support of the city’s Department of Science and Technology. They propose to grant us 340.000 PHP =~ $7000 USD from their budget to cover the expenses of getting lab tests, nutrition facts, shelf life testing as well as at least 10,000 product labels printed. It’s crucial that we get FDA approval in order to be able to sell in supermarkets nationwide, malls and also export to other countries.
Hiring a marketing professional
We need to urgently hire an experienced marketing person here in Maharlika to be hands-on, working full time to find outlets for our products. This is especially important given the limitations we’re running into in terms of COVID and in the absence of FDA approval. We need someone with a proven track record who’s willing to work partly on a commission basis and produce tangible results.
If you know of someone here in Maharlika who can help us find such a person we’d very much appreciate it!
Report By Johan Pellsäter
*OroqCoco is a model project for developing countries and economies conceived in collaboration with, and supported by the global headquarters of Proutist Universal.