Profiling Tepehua – July 2023

The first successful cooperative was founded approximately 175 years ago in Lancashire, England, at a time when industrial towns were sinking under poor conditions and poverty and the price of basic food was beyond reach. A group of 28 men decided to change their world. They did it by raising funds to set up a cooperative shop that provided good quality products at fair prices. The store was owned and run by all those who participated in it with shared responsibility and shared profit. It started a movement around the world impacting the lives of billions of people. 

Marx was firmly committed to cooperatives, believing they would take the place of capitalistic corporations. One of the largest cooperatives in the world is Mondragon of Spain that was founded in 1956. It is now an economic giant with 80,000 employees who collectively own the enterprise and choose their own managing director, retaining the power to make all the decisions for the enterprise. In a cooperative, the workers own the business, and the well-being and equality of the workers are put before profit, though profit is a shared objective. In a corporation the profit goes to the shareholders, who typically are not members of the organization´s workforce. 

In the 1950s this author toured Israel from Haifa as far as the Jordanian border, and had the privilege of visiting the kibbutz along the way, and was surprised to see how cooperatives and capitalistic corporations worked so well together, when both methods of organizing were so sorely needed. It was a time when people of the free world thought there was a Communist under every stone, so cooperatives were viewed with doubt.

Using the idea of a cooperative, the Tepehua Community Center has decided to take small industry to the women of the hill, where poverty keeps them captive as they cannot afford bus fare or leave their children. Taking the industry to the workers made sense. The Community Center will open a laundry at the Tepehua Center where the industrial-size machines are being installed. The women of the surrounding area will be able to walk to work. The finished items will then be transported down to the laundry in Riberas, next door to Tepehua Treasures, where the drop-off and pick-up will be. The women of Tepehua will own this industry in a cooperative. They will choose their hours and work the hours they can without disrupting family life. After paying their overhead, the profits will be for the women to share. This is similar to a kibbutz, where a person is given a job to do within a certain time, how they do it or when is up to them, even if it is during the night, as long as they meet or beat their deadline.

This author has seen the strength of the barrio women and their eager anticipation to change their environment and that of their children. The Center has changed a generation of children through education, we can do the same for the women through independence.

We look forward to the support of the public without whom not too much is possible. We need your cooperation to make this cooperative fly, and we firmly believe the women of Tepehua have what it takes to make it happen. It is a case of everybody winning. We hope to open this project in July. Check the Tepehua Treasures door for announcements. Any questions, please e-mail, and should you want to contribute those irritating wire hangers that you do not want but can´t throw away, please donate them for the laundry cooperative. It will help us keep the prices down but the quality up.

For more information about Lake Chapala visit:

Moonyeen King
Latest posts by Moonyeen King (see all)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *