In 1978, Norges Vel started its international work in cooperation with the Norwegian cooperative organizations and with support from Norad. It started with course activities, supporting recruitment of experts, information work that included study trips, and project assistance to promote cooperative value creation.
Throughout these 40 years, work has varied both in focus and geography. In the beginning there were projects in both Central America, Eastern Europe and Africa, and eventually also in the Balkans. Countries like Nicaragua, Guatemala and Gambia gained the greatest attention in the early years.
The projects focused on agriculture, in particular on the development of cooperatives and to strengthen women's role in agriculture, and as leaders in cooperatives. Eventually, the activities shifted from study trips and information work to projects in business development with a continued focus on agriculture, cooperatives and women's role.
Picture above: The Vegetable Cooperative in Gambia was supported by Norges Vel and Norges Bygdekvinnelag from 1987.
Colaboration with agricultural actors and cooperatives
Throughout the world, our international work has been carried out in collaboration with other agricultural actors such as the dairy cooperative Norske Meierier in Poland, the farmers’ association Norges Bondelag, the agricultural cooperation Landbrukssamvirkets Felleskontor in Nicaragua, NORFARM in Mozambique, and the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in West Africa.
The partnerships have focused on vegetable cultivation in Gambia, to strengthen organizations for coffee production, fisheries development and honey imports from Tanzania. In Poland, we developed the dairy sector, and strengthened knowledge of business development was amongst other used to start a bakery in Guatemala.
Picture above: A women's group in Guatemala established a bakery after training in accounting and business in 1999.
Tanzania office 10 years in 2017
Over the years, Norges Vel has had offices in several countries, including Nicaragua, Guatemala and Kosovo. In 2007, we established an office in Tanzania, strategically in relation to the current main focus country in Eastern and Southern Africa. Since its inception, the office has been working to strengthen cooperation, especially within the rice sector.
Picture above: In the autumn of 2007, Norges Vel opened office in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Combating poverty with business development
Norges Vel stands out from other non-profit organizations by our clear focus on business development. For 40 years, the goal has been the same for our international work - contributing to local business development to combat poverty and increase food security. Our work helps to create pride and independence among people in local communities so that they can manage without development support.
The methods we have used in countless projects, sectors and countries remain the same: cooperation, knowledge sharing and entrepreneurship. We are proud of our history and take this experience further into today's projects.