Introduction

Minga Montermor Coop

The Cooperativa Integral Minga is located in the small, rural town of Montemor-o-Novo in Portugal. It was founded in 2015 to reverse a process common to many rural Portuguese towns: population loss, the abandonment of agriculture, crafts and industries, and the decline of local commerce.

The cooperative acts as an umbrella for multiple small businesses, ranging from farmers to cosmetic producers, from plumbers to graphic designers, and promotes the collaborations between them. It is “integral”, enabling its members  to legally act in any activity necessary to life (e.g. production of goods and services, energies, housing, health, etc.).

Minga means degrowing, hereby evoking the principles of degrowth movement (e.g. consume local products, eat seasonal food, organize systems that promote free time, avoid contaminating natural resources, learn from the different generations, collaborate instead of competing, etc.).

Description

Strategic Sectors
Food Industry and Housing

Location
Portugal

Responsible Partners
CES

External supporting partners
Minga Montemor Coop

The case

from theory to implementation on the ground

Minga promotes the practice of Circular Economy in Montemor by providing a variety of tools to the local population. It serves as an incubator of local businesses, facilitating that any person can start her own business (alone or associated with other persons), without much costs or bureaucracies, in any field of activity.

It has a local shop, where local farmers, craftsmen and other producers can sell their products, and a distribution system that supplies the local school canteens with vegetables. It has internal currency, promoting the exchange of products and services between members. It has a microfinance mechanism to support projects when they need some leverage. It organizes network events between members so that they create local value-added chains and other forms of collaboration.

Currently, Minga has more than 70 members, its management is professionalized, and it is economically self-sustainable and independent from external fundings.

It is an integral cooperative founded in 2015 and offers a variety of local products and services/activities (co-housing, web design, public talks, etc.) along the principles of the Degrowth Movement and CE .

The case will look at role of grassroots-led CE cooperatives.

Distinctive aspects of the case study

This research intends to unveil two main processes that explain how Minga fosters circular economy.

First, it aims to understand how the members of Cooperativa Integral Minga perceive, define and put in practice the principles of circular economy. We will do so capturing the wide variety of mechanisms through which it takes place and the diversity of dimensions it crosses.

Second, it will investigate how Minga members use circular economy principles to design solutions, strategies and internal governance systems to pursue its own mission.

Last but not least, this study aims to assess how public policies (national and regional) could enhance circular economy experiences like Minga, namely in the context of rural and peripheral regions.

Main contact

Alexandre Castro. Current President of the Board (2022 onwards). alexandre@fimdomeio.com

Researchers

Jorge Goncalves, Case Study responsible, CES-University of Coimbra, jorgedbg@gmail.com

Joana Vaz Sousa, Case Study Supervisor, CES-University of Coimbra, joanasousa@ces.uc.pt

Giacomo D’Allisa, Case Study Supervisor, CES-University of Coimbra, giacomodalisa@gmail.com