Co-operatives and Social Enterprise

Serowe Consumers’ Co-operative Society

MichaelHawkesMike Hawkes writes:  “I went out to Swaneng in 1963 as a 21 yr old, to live and work with Patrick and Liz as their first IVS volunteer teacher. During my year at Swaneng, Patrick asked me to work with him on setting up the Serowe Co-operative Society. I remember so clearly attending the hearing with Patrick in Palapye to get our licence. The application was being opposed by the white traders in Serowe.”

MartinKibblewhite  Read Martin Kibblewhite’s account of : THE SEROWE CONSTRUCTION CO-OP 

PhillipJonesThumbnail1967: Philip Jones describes difficulties in setting up the Serowe Construction Co-op:

A new Co-operative initiated at Swaneng

Organisation of a new Co-operative at Swaneng has been temporarily held up by a small legal obstacle. The Co-operative concerned is the proposed Serowe Co-operative Construction Society, Ltd., which is being formed by the craftsmen and labourers who are now employed by the school on the school’s construction programme. The law has to be amended to take account of the fact that members of the Committee of Management will be paid by the Co-operative for construction work in which they participate. As the law stands, no member of a Committee of Management can receive any payment from the Co-operative. The amendment is now before the Legislature, and we are waiting for registration which should take place in a matter of days.

The Co-operative has been thought about for many months, but the ideas took concrete shape at the end of October 1966.

A committee was elected by those interested, and this committee asked Martin Kibblewhite to act as Technical Adviser to the group, and Philip J-ones to act as, Secretary. The committee chose Sekgele Sosome as Manager, and he is also the Foreman of the school construction programme. At present we have about 60 members nearly all of whom are engaged by the school, although we are now introducing some builders in the village. The purpose of the new Co-operative is to build private houses and other buildings in Serowe, and perhaps to contract for work at the school. This is the first Industrial Co-operative in Botswana, and will be closely studied to find out the feasibility of other types of industrial co-operation in this country. Builders and labourers joining together in a co-operative structure will be able to raise the necessary capital required by themselves, and will also be able to raise the standard of construction in Serowe.  The new Co-operative will also be able to offer employment for a certain-number of men who would not otherwise find profitable employment.

An agreement has been reached between the new Construction Co-operative and the Builders Brigade that the Brigade will, in future, provide training for prospective members of the Co-operative and that the Brigade should also be the main reservoir for membership of the Co-operative.


The Textile Workshop – Gallery

We have no information about the Serowe Engineering Co-operative. Please Contact us if you have information about this Co-op.

The Printing Enterprise:- Printing Cooperative and evolution of MMegi:

“Mmegi wa Dikgang – Printers and Publishers”; the letterhead is in red and black alongside a thumbnail silhouette of Africa. The name means ‘bearer of news’. Mmegi has changed since 1967, when War on Want donated R2,000’s worth of equipment to Swaneng Hill School to start a newspaper. As conceived by Patrick van Rensburg, the main idea of a newspaper was to stimulate and sustain literacy. Many people could read Setswana but not, or only with difficulty, English, yet there was little for them to read. The Daily News and the monthly magazine Kutlwano were partly in Setswana, but both were government publications and an independent news organ was felt to be a healthy addition. Except that Mmegi is no longer alone in the printing and publishing field, the situation is basically unchanged today. At that time – 1967-68 – four editions of a newspaper were brought out and some job printing was done, before the press had to close for lack of a full-time printer.

By Jack Turner, December, 2013

Links to articles about Mmegi:-

We have made every effort to make this website accurate but a document of this type is prone to mistakes and omissions, for which we apologise.  If you spot any errors let us know about them by contacting us here :- Contact



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