The Völgység Kincse” Social Cooperative increases employment in rural areas, promotes short supply chains and contributes to a healthier diet in schools.
Rural areas in Hungary face unemployment, ageing and the lack of local job opportunities pointing in the same direction: outward migration. Available local resources are usually not being processed in the same area, which could otherwise increase liveability.
The Völgység Kincse Social Cooperative was established with support from the Social Renewal Operational Programme (2007-2013) funded by ERDF. This allowed the newly formed social cooperative to start the production of fruit juice from locally grown raw materials. The Cooperative collaborates with 2 other local Cooperatives.
The operation of the Völgység Kincse contributed to employment by supporting 7 locals to become self-employed. Activities also include trainings, cultural events, operation of a local food store and can be extended with additional features.
The Cooperative is a multi-faceted organization engaging in different, locally beneficial activities and is based on the cooperation of local actors, such as the Municipality, the fruit farmers, the membership of the Cooperative and is supported on the long term not only by directly selling their products online or in their local food store, but the School fruit, vegetables and milk scheme contributing to a healthier diet in schools. The long-term commitment of the leadership to local issues is required for this organization to function and in the same time supports local fruit farmers, local employment in food industry and creates a short supply chain.
The Cooperative received a total of 83 million HUF support for establishing the fruit juice factory and to support local employment (the education and wage of 7 full time employees for 12 months).
Evidence of success
The Social Cooperative operates a local product store, a webshop, and provide 46 schools with fresh fruit or fruit juice. They have received the "Excellent product" award in 2017.
The Cooperative was also successful in processing local raw materials locally and boosting local employment, at the start 7 locals became self-employed, but more importantly they still have 5 local on board.
Liquidity problems made it difficult to start the Social Cooperative and late payments still can cause problems. Post-financing in projects might be difficult for starting Cooperatives and the lack of new projects might also be problematic.
Potential for learning or transfer
The Social Cooperative can be launched as a stand-alone company or with conjunction of existing companies, the latter enables them to profit from existing facilities. Creating local jobs based on local materials and building community in collaboration with locals, local companies and authorities can be very important in rural communities and contributes to building trust and confidence in local projects.
The Völgység Kincse Social Cooperative also promotes healthy eating habits at schools by entering the School fruit, vegetables and milk scheme. As setting up a simple production line does not require considerable resources, this Good Practice can be easily deployed in other regions, however necessary soft measures might be needed to succesfully launch such a project.