Cooperativa Integrale Minga (Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal)

In the small town of Montemor-o-Novo, Cooperativa Integrale Minga was founded “to reverse a process common to many rural Portuguese towns: population loss, the abandonment of agriculture and the decline of local commerce.” The Minga cooperative acts as an umbrella for multiple small businesses, ranging from food producers to solar panel makers to graphic designers. It connects local farmers and consumers, promotes agroecological farming, runs a shop for local products of all kinds, manages a community space, and takes part in a local currency initiative.

In other words, Minga is a self-financed venture in the solidarity economy based on the enthusiasm of its members. Every member is both a producer and a consumer of the different parts of the cooperative.  Indeed, the cooperative model makes sustaining a business easier, in contrast with the prevailing entrepreneurial model which sees everything in terms of the individual business, reducing the individual’s ability to develop their project. Instead, by respecting individual needs and viewpoints and the way in which every individual wishes to interact with the cooperative, it is clear that by working together it is possible to do and achieve much more than each individual would be able achieve on their own.

Minga is led by the promotion of sustainable ecological, economic and social practices, through a precise strategy:

  • a reduction in intermediation, making products more affordable;
  • management of a dedicated sales outlet, which can reduce margins compared to the market;
  • the development of a Services section, offering a wide range of professional services including training, teaching, health and wellbeing etc.;
  • the facilitation of access to locally produced products and services;
  • the promotion of self-employment through support from a multidisciplinary team.