Today we took a two-hour bus ride to Coopedota in Santa Maria de Dota. Coopedota is a cooperative that specializes in supplying coffee to the people of Costa Rica. Much like Café Rey, Coopedota didn’t flaunt themselves as a “luxury” brand, due to their marketing mainly towards Ticos. The main difference between Coopedota and the other companies we’ve visited Is that Coopedota is a cooperative, run by around 900 families. Co-ops actually operate with many of the same tendencies as normal business, and can experience equal amounts of success. Like any corporate model, choosing to run a business as a co-op has its advantages and disadvantages.
One main benefit of running a co-op is the community involvement. Sharing ownership gives people with a vested interest in the company an actual say in things, and this leads to a better relationship between the community and the corporation. In a country that values personal relationships as much as Costa Rica, Coopedota’s business model works very well. Building off community involvement, it is possible for shared ownership on a large scale to lead to more innovation in the product, in this case coffee. With over 900 families in the ownership, it’s beneficial for more voices to be heard. Co-ops give the power back to the people and allow for a more wholesome interaction between buyer and seller.
On a strictly financial note, running a co-operative might not result in the fiscal prosperity that a traditional corporation would. With more community involvement, the upper management will have to have fairer margins, and might not be able to maximize their profit. While more customer involvement is clearly a good thing for business, it might not be the same for the business’ bank accounts. The community of Santa Maria de Dota clearly benefits from the presence of a co-operative, and others around the world do as well.