Co-op News, May 2022

The May edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at how co-operation is communicated around the world - with an interview from co-ops on the frontline in Ukraine as well as sector leaders in Canada, Iran and Singapore. There's a look at Cwmpas – the new branding for the Wales Co-operative Centre as it enters its 40th year – and how Yorkshire County Cricket Club restructured its member-led model in the wake of the racism scandal. Plus a report from the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society conference, where co-op farmers looked at ways to improve their own messaging around sustainability, an interview with the Building Societies Association, and a look a the co-op response to typhoons in the Philippines. Plus a look at Co-op Group's annual results.

The May edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at how co-operation is communicated around the world - with an interview from co-ops on the frontline in Ukraine as well as sector leaders in Canada, Iran and Singapore. There's a look at Cwmpas – the new branding for the Wales Co-operative Centre as it enters its 40th year – and how Yorkshire County Cricket Club restructured its member-led model in the wake of the racism scandal. Plus a report from the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society conference, where co-op farmers looked at ways to improve their own messaging around sustainability, an interview with the Building Societies Association, and a look a the co-op response to typhoons in the Philippines. Plus a look at Co-op Group's annual results.


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MAY <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … Solidarity in times<br />

of war: interview with <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Ukraine’s Illia Gorokhovsky<br />

...How is co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

communicated in different<br />

countries? ... The co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

summer camp experience<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

770009 982010<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />


In the run up to their AGM, members<br />

of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group will again<br />

be asked to vote on continuing the<br />

partnership with the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Party.<br />

For over 100 years, the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Party and the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement<br />

have worked in partnership to build a<br />

society where power and wealth are<br />

shared. We are the political voice of<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement, taking co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

policies and principles from<br />

the sh<strong>op</strong> floor to the places where<br />

laws are made.<br />

We are your voice at decision-making<br />

tables across the country: working<br />

together we have promoted new<br />

protections for sh<strong>op</strong>workers, food<br />

justice, protection of community assets<br />

and fairtrade. But for that work to<br />

continue, we need your vote.<br />

To keep this historic and powerful link<br />

and to continue the amazing successes<br />

we’ve achieved together, Vote Yes to<br />

Motion 9 at the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group’s AGM.<br />

Since last year’s vote, we have:<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Supported sh<strong>op</strong>workers facing skyrocketing levels of<br />

violence, threats and abuse by winning further legal<br />

protections for sh<strong>op</strong>workers. In Westminster, our campaign<br />

had a massive win with tougher penalties for assaulting<br />

public-facing workers like sh<strong>op</strong>workers. In Scotland, the<br />

Protection of Workers Act came into force, which saw 300<br />

offences reported in just the first three months.<br />

Fought for food justice by helping to increase the uptake of<br />

Healthy Start food vouchers in every area of England and<br />

Wales; backing local food poverty solutions such as Food<br />

Champions, food partnerships and community fridges;<br />

supporting the expansion of Free School Meals; and<br />

leading a national conversation on a legal Right to Food.<br />

Protected the co-<strong>op</strong>erative and mutual movement by<br />

standing against the takeover of historic mutual insurer LV=<br />

and helping to prevent its sell-off to an American venture<br />

capital firm.<br />

Tackled the scandal of tax avoidance by winning on<br />

campaigns such as bringing in a register of overseas<br />

owners, backing the Biden Plan for a global minimum<br />

corporation tax and supporting councils to increase<br />

tax transparency. The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group and the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Party continue to both be accredited by the Fair<br />

Tax Foundation, because our movement will always be<br />

proud to pay our fair share.<br />

Put co-<strong>op</strong>eration in power across the country by having<br />

our most successful set of elections yet in 2021, which saw<br />

our representation grow to over 900 councillors, 11 MSPs,<br />

16 MSs and 5 Metro <strong>May</strong>ors, alongside our 25 MPs and 16<br />

Peers in Westminster.<br />

Am I eligible to vote?<br />

If you are eligible, you should have received your ballot by email or post. Check<br />

your inbox for an email from vote@agm.co<strong>op</strong>.co.uk, or check your eligibility<br />

online at membership.co<strong>op</strong>.co.uk/eligibility-to-vote.<br />

You have until midday on Monday 16th <strong>May</strong> to cast your vote.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party Limited is a registered Society under the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative and <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Benefit Societies Act 2014. Registered no.<br />

30027R. Promoted by Joe Fortune on behalf of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party, both at Unit 13, 83 Crampton Street, London SE17 3BQ.

<strong>Co</strong>mmunicating the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

difference<br />




Holyoake House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

(00) 44 161 214 0870<br />

www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

editorial@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Rebecca Harvey | rebecca@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Anca Voinea | anca@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Miles Hadfield | miles@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

alice@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

DESIGN<br />

Andy Bellis | andy@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Elaine Dean (chair); David Paterson<br />

(vice-chair); Sofygil Crew; Victoria<br />

Green; Tim Hartley; Phil Hartwell;<br />

Gillian Lonergan; Beverley Perkins;<br />

Shaz Rahman; Lesley Reznicek<br />

Secretary: Richard Bickle<br />

Established in 1871, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>News</strong> is published by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Press Ltd, a registered society under<br />

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Benefit Society Act 2014. It is printed<br />

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The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong> mission<br />

statement is to connect, champion<br />

and challenge the global co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement, through fair and objective<br />

journalism and <strong>op</strong>en and honest<br />

comment and debate. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong><br />

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@co<strong>op</strong>news<br />

co<strong>op</strong>erativenews<br />

CBP009222<br />

To those involved in the movement, that co-<strong>op</strong>s have a different<br />

approach to running a business is well-known. But how can this be<br />

communicated to those outside the movement? The International<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance recently launched a global survey of co-<strong>op</strong>erators,<br />

asking how well the co-<strong>op</strong> identity is defined and understood. The findings<br />

will inform the work of its <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Identity Advisory Group (p29).<br />

An important element of communication is engaging youth. The Singapore<br />

National <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Federation is doing this via its social media channels,<br />

and we speak to its marketing executive Sng Ler Jun to find out how the<br />

apex changes its language to suit its target audience (p40-41). Another<br />

example of youth engagement is the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Leadership Camp, run by<br />

the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>uncil of North Carolina (p32-33).<br />

In a big, diverse country like Canada, communicating the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

difference goes hand in hand with working with regional co-<strong>op</strong> federations.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and Mutuals Canada runs several national campaigns to<br />

promote the sector while engaging with senior government officials to raise<br />

awareness about the role of co-<strong>op</strong>s in providing essential services (p30-31).<br />

Meanwhile, Wales <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Centre has rebranded; we speak to CEO<br />

Derek Walker to find out the reasons behind the move (p42-43). Branding<br />

is important, because communicating co-<strong>op</strong> values can bring market<br />

advantage – our coverage of the SAOS conference looks at how farm co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

can gain leverage through industry-wide marketing initiatives (p26-27).<br />

There is also room for co-<strong>op</strong>s to work with other organisations to spread<br />

the word about mutuals. “Mutuals across a range of different businesses<br />

including co-<strong>op</strong>s and friendly societies can work together on the challenge<br />

around helping pe<strong>op</strong>le understand the mutual difference,” says Hilary<br />

McVitty of the Building Societies Association (p38-39).<br />

And while there are many good co-<strong>op</strong>erative stories to tell, such as ICMIF’s<br />

centenary (p36-37) or <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Ukraine’s efforts to serve its communities<br />

despite the Russian invasion (p22-23), co-<strong>op</strong>s are not immune to scandals.<br />

We look at how Yorkshire <strong>Co</strong>unty Cricket Club handled its recent racism<br />

scandal, changing the structure of its co-<strong>op</strong> governance (p34-35).<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong> is printed using vegetable oil-based inks<br />

on 80% recycled paper (with 60% from post-consumer waste)<br />

with the remaining 20% produced from FSC or PEFC certified<br />

sources. It is made in a totally chlorine free process.<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 3

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

01<br />



Shirine Khoury-Haq, interim CEO of the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Group, presides over this year’s annual<br />

results (p5; 48-49); Scotland’s farm co-<strong>op</strong><br />

body SAOS holds its annual conference<br />

(p26-27); Wales <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Centre rebrands as<br />

Cwmpas (p42-43); the US tradition of co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

youth camps (p32-33); Ukraine’s<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s keep up the war effort (p46-47)<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong><br />




Plus … Solidarity in times<br />

of war: interview with <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Ukraine’s Illia Gorokhovsky<br />

...How is co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

communicated in different<br />

countries? ... The co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

summer camp experience<br />

£4.20<br />

www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Wales <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Centre, the UK’s<br />

biggest co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment agency, is<br />

rebranding after 40 years, taking the<br />

name Cwmpas to reflect its national<br />

heritage and its “next chapter as<br />

a devel<strong>op</strong>ment agency working for<br />

economic and social change”<br />

Read more: p42-43<br />


Insights from the president of the Iran<br />

Chamber of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

24 RIGHT TO SAVE<br />

Labour/<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> MP Gareth Thomas wants a<br />

law to help pe<strong>op</strong>le save with credit unions<br />



Scottish farm co-<strong>op</strong>s discuss ways to<br />

market sustainability and collaboration,<br />

all through the supply chain<br />


the movement have a common<br />

understanding for co-<strong>op</strong> messaging?<br />

30-31 NORTHERN STARS<br />

How <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s and Mutuals Canada ties a<br />

complex national movement together<br />


and Canadian co-<strong>op</strong> put their own spin<br />

on the summer youth camp<br />


With clubs in debt and the shock of the<br />

Yorkshire racism scandal, can the county<br />

cricket co-<strong>op</strong>s save the game through<br />

values of equity and membership?<br />


ICMIF celebrates its centenary<br />

38-39 MUTUAL BENEFIT<br />

Helen McVitty of the Building Societies<br />

Association on its co-<strong>op</strong> values<br />

40-41 SCALING UP<br />

Ler Jun Sng, from Singapore’s co-<strong>op</strong><br />

apex, on its multi-channel messaging<br />

42-43 MORAL CWMPAS<br />

New brand, new name for the Wales<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Centre<br />

44-45 RECOVERY WORK<br />

How co-<strong>op</strong> values have driven disaster<br />

relief –from 19th century famine to 21st<br />

century typhoons<br />

46-47 VOICE FROM UKRAINE Interview<br />

from the war zone with Illia<br />

Gorokhovskyi, chair of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Ukraine<br />


Leigh Sparks on the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group results<br />


5-13 UK news<br />

14-21 Global news<br />

22-25 Meet, comment, letters<br />

50 Events<br />

4 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

NEWS<br />

RETAIL<br />

Aftermath of <strong>Co</strong>vid crisis hits profits at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group<br />

Supply chain disruption and the fallout<br />

from the pandemic have seen pre-tax<br />

profits at the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group dr<strong>op</strong> £70m to<br />

£57m (2021: £127m), although the figure is<br />

up from the pre-<strong>Co</strong>vid 2019 figure of £24m.<br />

Group chair Allan Leighton said: “The<br />

economic headwinds look stark and will<br />

be tricky to navigate, but through our<br />

continued planned strategic investments,<br />

our <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is well placed to ride out the<br />

storm and prosper beyond.”<br />

Underlying <strong>op</strong>erating profit in 2021 was<br />

£100m (2020: £235m, 2019: £173m) and<br />

the Group reported an underlying loss<br />

before tax of £32m compared to a £100m<br />

profit in 2020 (2019: £35m profit).<br />

A tax charge of £25m meant the Group<br />

recorded an overall profit of £32m from<br />

continuing <strong>op</strong>erations in 2021 (2020: £72m<br />

and 2019: £49m).<br />

Net debt stands at £920m, (2019: £695m,<br />

2020: £550m) “reflecting various factors,<br />

including increased capital expenditure,<br />

investment in stock during supply chain<br />

disruption, negative cash flow timings<br />

and furlough repayment”. The Group adds<br />

that net debt “has improved significantly<br />

since year-end”.<br />

The figures, in the Group’s annual report<br />

for the year ended 1 January <strong>2022</strong>, come as<br />

the UK faces a tough economic outlook,<br />

hit by the disruptions of <strong>Co</strong>vid-19, Brexit,<br />

the Ukraine conflict and a worsening costof-living<br />

crisis.<br />

Interim CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq said:<br />

“The difficult <strong>op</strong>erating environment<br />

dispr<strong>op</strong>ortionately impacted our food<br />

business, given its focus on the community<br />

convenience market, with an <strong>op</strong>erating<br />

model that is more reliant on flexibility in<br />

the supply chain.”<br />

But she said the Group is “a business<br />

designed for the long term”, adding:<br />

“We have a platform of businesses in the<br />

right markets to drive change and get<br />

closer to our members, customers and<br />

communities. The significant investment<br />

we have made in recent years now<br />

provides the basis for us to move forwards<br />

in a more efficient manner.”<br />

She said the Group would focus on<br />

accelerating growth in its food business,<br />

expanding its funeralcare, legal services<br />

and insurance arms, and ensuring value<br />

p Shirine Khoury-Haq, who last month stepped up as interim CEO<br />

and affordability as household budgets<br />

come under pressure.<br />

Total sales across food and wholesale<br />

were £9.1bn, up from a pre-pandemic<br />

£8.9bn for 2019: £8.9bn, and down from<br />

2020, when the £9.3bn had a boost from<br />

extra lockdown trade.<br />

For funeralcare, overall revenue is<br />

slightly down on the prior year by £8m<br />

to £264m (2020: £272m), reflecting lower<br />

death rate after the peak of the pandemic.<br />

In the insurance business, a “new<br />

capital-light and customer-centric<br />

business model has driven return to<br />

profitability”. New business sales have<br />

risen to £34m (2020: £6m).<br />

Legal services lifted profit, with overall<br />

revenue up 9% to £39m (2020: £37m).<br />

More new members were recruited<br />

than in the previous two years – 517,000<br />

(2019: 470,000; 2020: 445,000). And 39%<br />

of those new members were aged 35 and<br />

under. Rewards shared to members and<br />

communities totalled £42m (through 2%<br />

returned to members and 2% given to<br />

community groups on purchases of ownbrand<br />

products), and members saved an<br />

additional £10m through digital offers. In<br />

the previous year, members earned £58m<br />

through the 2% + 2% community and<br />

member rewards (2019: £70m; prior to<br />

October 2020 rewards were earned at 1%<br />

(community) and 5% (members)).<br />

Key investments include £140m in the<br />

food store estate, with 50 new stores; 87<br />

store refits; 25 relocations and 15 store<br />

extensions. Supply chain investment,<br />

including the Group’s new depot,<br />

totalled £39m and £20m was invested<br />

on an annualised basis to align frontline<br />

colleague pay to the Real Living Wage.<br />

The Group continued its <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erating<br />

for a Fairer World strategy, including<br />

measures for the cost of living crisis,<br />

with £8.7m investment across 102 Honest<br />

Value products, “absorption of supplier<br />

inflation on key products” in Food, and<br />

holding prices in Funeralcare.<br />

The Group reached a milestone of £100m<br />

of funds shared with local communities,<br />

causes and charity partners over the last<br />

five years. More than 1 million members<br />

selected a Local <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Fund cause<br />

in the last round of funding and the Group<br />

raised more than £4.5m in 2021 through<br />

partnerships with Mind, Inspire and the<br />

Scottish Association for Mental Health,<br />

helping over 8,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

Two “major new colleague policies”<br />

were launched on domestic violence and<br />

pregnancy loss and the Group continued<br />

its training and tech investment as it<br />

battled an ongoing problem of sh<strong>op</strong>lifting<br />

and attacks on store workers.<br />

And it launched its 10-point climate<br />

plan, with significant commitments<br />

including reaching net zero by 2040 and<br />

becoming the world’s first food retailer to<br />

produce carbon-neutral own-brand food<br />

and drink by 2025.<br />

u More Group news and society results p6-7<br />

u Analysis p48-49<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 5

RETAIL<br />

First deliveries roll out from Group’s new £45m depot<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group’s new regional<br />

distribution depot in Biggleswade,<br />

Bedfordshire, is gearing up to serve<br />

communities with the first deliveries<br />

under way to stores across the south east.<br />

The depot has started delivering<br />

frozen, fresh and ambient groceries to the<br />

convenience retailer’s stores, with the site<br />

set to serve over 600 <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group stores<br />

when it becomes fully <strong>op</strong>erational later<br />

this year.<br />

At 661,000 sq ft, the new £45m depot –<br />

located just off the A1, less than 30 miles<br />

north of the M25 – will become the Group’s<br />

largest regional distribution centre.<br />

The depot has a base build constructed<br />

to BREEAM Excellent and expects to use<br />

100% renewable energy to power the site<br />

which is set to include solar PV designed<br />

into the roof.<br />

It also embraces adaptable and<br />

innovative spaces, both indoor and<br />

outdoor, that focus on wellbeing and<br />

mindfulness for the up to 1,000 colleagues<br />

working at the site. This includes a<br />

contemplation area, outside green space<br />

bordered by a living wall, and its awardwinning<br />

initiative to support and promote<br />

better sleep, diet and mental health in the<br />

industry, known as Night Club.<br />

Supply chain and logistics director Andy<br />

Perry said: “Our new Biggleswade depot<br />

represents a significant investment in our<br />

logistic <strong>op</strong>erations, bringing thousands of<br />

products closer to communities across the<br />

south east.<br />

p The new depot at Biggleswade (Photo: Richard Grange / United National Photographers)<br />

“Serving our members and customers<br />

however and wherever they choose to<br />

sh<strong>op</strong> with us is at the very heart of what<br />

we do. Whether sh<strong>op</strong>pers choose to p<strong>op</strong><br />

into their local <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, or sh<strong>op</strong> online –<br />

where groceries are picked fresh in the<br />

local store – our depots work to serve and<br />

support our communities and <strong>op</strong>erations.<br />

Our investment in our new Biggleswade<br />

depot forms part of plans to ensure we<br />

have the right distribution facilities in<br />

place to serve our communities, both now,<br />

and in the future.”<br />

In other news from the Group, it has<br />

extended its partnership with the Natasha<br />

Allergy Research Foundation, to mark<br />

Allergy Awareness Week (26-30 April).<br />

The retailer is donating 10% of all sales<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> ‘Free From’ products for three<br />

weeks, from 13 April to 3 <strong>May</strong>.<br />

Retail co-<strong>op</strong>s bag Queen’s Award for sustainability work<br />

The partnership, which started in 2021,<br />

is part of the Group’s commitment to raise<br />

£100k for the Natasha Allergy Research<br />

Foundation by 2023.<br />

The foundation was formed in 2019<br />

following the death of 15-year-old<br />

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered<br />

a fatal allergic reaction to an undeclared<br />

ingredient in a baguette from a fast-food<br />

outlet. The charity focuses on medical<br />

research as well as education and raising<br />

awareness of food allergies.<br />

Natasha’s parents, Tanya and Nadim,<br />

said: “Once again, we are incredibly<br />

grateful to the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> who are helping us<br />

in our mission to make a real difference to<br />

families with food allergies.”<br />

The Group’s Free From range is available<br />

in <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and NISA stores and online, and<br />

includes breads and breakfast cereals.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group and Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> are<br />

among the winners in the sustainable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment category for this year’s<br />

Queens Awards for Enterprise.<br />

The awards, which involve a rigorous<br />

application process, recognised 31<br />

businesses in the sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

category, and 232 businesses overall.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group has led a number<br />

of sustainability initiatives, notably<br />

its 10-point plan on climate change.<br />

Achievements include achieving<br />

<strong>op</strong>erational carbon-neutral status for<br />

all 2,600 of its food stores and 800<br />

Funeralcare homes and introducing a<br />

soft plastic in-store recycling scheme to<br />

make all its own brand food and drink<br />

packaging easily recyclable.<br />

CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq said: “We<br />

are absolutely delighted to receive this<br />

honour, which is recognition of the<br />

great work and achievements of our<br />

colleagues. Sustainability, climate action<br />

and reducing our business impacts are<br />

embedded into the heart of what we do.<br />

“Our approach is to make a sustainable<br />

difference to society and we acknowledge<br />

there is much progress still to be achieved<br />

and we know we can’t do it alone. <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erating<br />

with our partners, suppliers,<br />

farmers and fellow UK businesses will<br />

make a lasting positive change.”<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> CEO Mark Smith said:<br />

“We are honoured to have been awarded<br />

this significant and well-respected title.<br />

“Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> was originally set<br />

up nearly 150 years ago in response to<br />

the societal challenges of that time –<br />

exploitation, inequality and poverty.<br />

“Many of these challenges sadly still<br />

exist today, alongside environmental<br />

challenges like climate change, declining<br />

natural resources and threatened wildlife/<br />

habitats. We all need to continue working<br />

together to tackle these issues.”<br />

Southern is currently working towards<br />

ambitious science-based targets to cut its<br />

climate emissions.<br />

6 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

RETAIL<br />

Central England hails ‘solid performance’ but warns of challenges to come<br />

Central England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> reported a “solid”<br />

performance for the year to 22 January<br />

<strong>2022</strong> with a trading profit of £19.9m.<br />

The figure is down 29% on last year<br />

when lockdown sales lifted profits to<br />

£28m, but is up 13.2% on a two-year basis,<br />

says the society in its annual report.<br />

Gross sales from continuing <strong>op</strong>erations<br />

(excluding VAT) grew by 0.7% year on year<br />

to £875.0m (2021: £869.0m) and were up<br />

3.7% on a two-year basis.<br />

Operating profit of £23.2m was up<br />

9.9% year on year (2021: £21.1m). Cash<br />

generation from <strong>op</strong>erating activities stood<br />

at £36.8m, down 26.9% year on year but<br />

up 10.6% on a two-year basis.<br />

Capital expenditure of £21.5m (2021:<br />

£21.2m) saw the society <strong>op</strong>en three new<br />

stores, relocate one other and regenerate<br />

41 sites. The society’s net assets show an<br />

improved position of £275.4m compared<br />

to last year (2021: £208.1m), largely due to<br />

the reduction in the pension deficit.<br />

Food sales were £667.6m (2021: £691.2m)<br />

and funeral gross sales were £43.9m (2021:<br />

£40.7m). The funeral division also took<br />

in 248 new colleagues, 50 new funeral<br />

p Debbie Robinson<br />

homes and two vehicle logistics centres<br />

following the transfer of the funeral<br />

business belonging to Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>lleagues received a £963,000 share<br />

from the annual profit; another reward<br />

included an extra day paid leave to<br />

celebrate the society winning Leading <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

of the Year in the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

of the Year Awards.<br />

During 2021, the society awarded<br />

£170,000 in <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Dividend Fund<br />

grants to 136 local causes.<br />

CEO Debbie Robinson said: “As<br />

restrictions eased, we saw a more<br />

challenging second half of the financial<br />

year. We responded to this challenge by<br />

improving our local product offerings<br />

and increasing the number of concession<br />

partners such as Nutmeg clothing and the<br />

Original Factory Sh<strong>op</strong>.”<br />

Looking ahead, she said there are more<br />

challenges to come for the convenience<br />

sector, “including new rules governing the<br />

way we market items to customers that are<br />

high in fat, sugar and salt … This is a real<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to encourage and support<br />

customers to eat better.<br />

“The sector will face increases in<br />

corporation tax from 2023, and disruption<br />

to supply chains continue due to the<br />

impact of Brexit. Inflation has reached<br />

a 30-year high, which will impact on<br />

our cost base and households will face<br />

considerable increases in the cost of<br />

living. We expect to see a significant threat<br />

to household spending and profitability.”<br />

Scotmid announces £5.7m trading profit for 2021<br />

Scotmid <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has announced a £5.7m<br />

trading profit in its annual report for<br />

the 52 weeks to January 29 – down from<br />

£6.4m for the 53-week period for the<br />

previous year.<br />

Turnover was £403m, down £6m on the<br />

year before, but net assets increased by<br />

nearly £10m to a record £112.7m and net<br />

debt was cut by £7.4m, to £17m.<br />

Major store refits were completed at<br />

Prestonpans, Barnton, Menstrie and<br />

Barlanark, and a new store was acquired<br />

in Perth. And the co-<strong>op</strong> relaunched<br />

its <strong>Co</strong>mmunity <strong>Co</strong>nnect Scheme with<br />

£84,000 shared between 12 good causes;<br />

it also raised £220,000 for its charity of the<br />

year partners.<br />

Chief executive John Brodie said the<br />

impact of the pandemic on the society’s<br />

businesses has “unwound” as the country<br />

emerges from the crisis.<br />

Scotmid’s food convenience stores<br />

saw trade fall off from the peaks of the<br />

lockdown in early 2020, he added, but<br />

its health and beauty chain Semichem<br />

“made significant progress on the journey<br />

to recovery”.<br />

Semichem had faced significant<br />

challenges during the pandemic and in<br />

April 2021 Scotmid announced the closure<br />

of several branches. The end of lockdown<br />

helped Semichem turn things around, said<br />

Mr Brodie, with stores fully <strong>op</strong>en over the<br />

last 12 months and “a steady improvement<br />

in sales as the year progressed”.<br />

But Scotmid’s food stores – in line with<br />

the wider convenience sector – “had a<br />

reduced local sh<strong>op</strong>ping benefit compared<br />

to the lockdown periods in 2020.<br />

“The business also faced challenges in<br />

supply chain and record sickness levels<br />

from the Omicron variant. Our pr<strong>op</strong>erty<br />

business had a resilient performance<br />

coming out of the pandemic and Scotmid<br />

Funerals saw a return of demand for full<br />

service traditional funerals.”<br />

p John Brodie<br />

Mr Brodie said planning uncertainty<br />

had continued to affect business, with<br />

major challenges in the grocery supply<br />

chain, with factors including Brexit and<br />

the shortage of HGV drivers. There are<br />

still inflationary cost pressures to come,<br />

he warned.<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 7


Tuition platform <strong>op</strong>ens<br />

£300k fundraising drive<br />

Platform co-<strong>op</strong> My<strong>Co</strong>olClass has launched<br />

a share offer to raise £300,000 and grow<br />

its business.<br />

The teachers’ co-<strong>op</strong>, which launched<br />

last year, h<strong>op</strong>es the funds will leave it<br />

better placed to benefit from the soaring<br />

revenues in the UK’s online education<br />

and training sector – which are expected<br />

to reach £3.8bn in 2021.<br />

Anyone in the world can invest in the<br />

offer, and UK investors can seek up to 50%<br />

tax relief. Individuals can invest between<br />

£100 and £25,000, while organisations<br />

can invest a maximum of £100,000.<br />

Interest of 5% will be paid annually from<br />

year one onwards.<br />

“We need the money to be able to market<br />

and compete and drive the students to the<br />

platform,” said co-founder John Hayes.<br />

My<strong>Co</strong>olClass will have three types of<br />

members – teachers (user members),<br />

worker members, and investor members.<br />

UK investors will be able to invest in the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> via Ethex while those in other<br />

countries will be able to invest directly via<br />

the share offer on the co-<strong>op</strong>’s website. UK<br />

investors will get a 50% tax break on their<br />

investment.<br />

Since its launch last June, My<strong>Co</strong>olClass<br />

has enrolled over 300 teachers who have<br />

delivered over 700 classes via its online<br />

platform. The co-<strong>op</strong> also hired 20 staff to<br />

deal with the admin side of the business.<br />

“Most of our teachers knew nothing<br />

about co-<strong>op</strong>s,” said Mr Hayes. “We’re<br />

trying to get the point across that we’re<br />

not backed by venture capital. A lot of<br />

them have the expectations of us as a large<br />

company, and that’s unrealistic right now.”<br />

In addition to the share offer, the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

is raising money via a loan stock issued<br />

in January <strong>2022</strong> to help sustain <strong>op</strong>eration<br />

costs until the launch of the share offer.<br />

My<strong>Co</strong>olClass receives donations from<br />

individuals and co-<strong>op</strong>erative support<br />

organisations and has received a £5,000<br />

grant from Solidfund to help fund<br />

marketing and purchase business grade<br />

Cloudflare and Encrypted Cloud Storage.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> worked with Dave Boyle<br />

from the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares <strong>Co</strong>mpany<br />

to devel<strong>op</strong> its share offer, as well as<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative organiser Siôn Whellens. It<br />

also had support from the Hive, the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment programme run<br />

by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK, through which it<br />

covered consulting costs associated with<br />

launching a community share offer.<br />

Teachers will be able to pitch courses<br />

to the co-<strong>op</strong>’s in-house curriculum team.<br />

If approved, teachers will earn royalties<br />

from sales of their course.<br />


UKSCS calls for papers as it prepares to revive in-person conference<br />

The UK Society for <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Studies<br />

(UKSCS) is back with an in-person<br />

conference for <strong>2022</strong>, to be held from 26--28<br />

August at the University of Lincoln.<br />

A call for presentations, papers and<br />

panels has gone out, with a focus on<br />

consumer co-<strong>op</strong>eratives – past, present<br />

and future. Pr<strong>op</strong>osals can be oriented<br />

towards generating debates and engaging<br />

members, facilitating experiential<br />

learning activities or reporting the<br />

findings of research studies.<br />

Organisers say that they are particularly<br />

welcoming contributions by practitioners<br />

who wish to share devel<strong>op</strong>ments within<br />

their co-<strong>op</strong>erative enterprise and/<br />

or network on the emergence of new<br />

thinking.<br />

This includes how now thinking has<br />

been applied to accounting, management,<br />

marketing, governance and other issues<br />

in co-<strong>op</strong>eratives; how new practices<br />

have impacted on consumer co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

members but also on members of producer<br />

and worker co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, and other<br />

organisations who organise as societies<br />

for mutual benefit.<br />

UKSCS also welcomes contributions on<br />

the position/contribution of consumer<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration in the wider co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement at regional, national or<br />

international level.<br />

The conference will follow four tracks:<br />

T1 – The context of consumer co<strong>op</strong>eration,<br />

looking at issues such as the<br />

policies and politics of consumer co<strong>op</strong>eration,<br />

the response of consumer<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to the changing nature of<br />

work, the issue of capital accumulation<br />

in consumer co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, and interco<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

structures.<br />

T2 – <strong>Co</strong>nsumer co-<strong>op</strong>eratives across<br />

time, space and sectors, looking at<br />

consumer co-<strong>op</strong>s across regions and/or<br />

countries; across economic sectors; in<br />

historical accounts and in terms of future<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ments.<br />

T3 – Lessons learnt: what works in a<br />

consumer co-<strong>op</strong>erative, focusing on the<br />

identification of effective co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

practices, including: best practice and<br />

how to attract young co-<strong>op</strong>erators to form<br />

start-ups.<br />

T4 – Open Track: Pr<strong>op</strong>osals for<br />

presentations, paper panels or practical<br />

activities that do not fit naturally into one<br />

of the above tracks/themes.<br />

u For more information and submission<br />

guidance, visit bit.ly/3EU3ahM<br />

8 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>


Ecology appoints new CEO as annual report hails assets milestone<br />

Ecology Building Society has appointed<br />

Gareth Griffiths as its new chief executive,<br />

replacing Paul Ellis who is standing down<br />

after 27 years in the role.<br />

Mr Griffiths, who takes up the next<br />

month, subject to regulatory approval,<br />

joins from Triodos Bank where he is head<br />

of retail banking. Prior to that he held<br />

leadership roles at RAC and HSBC after<br />

beginning his banking career with former<br />

mutual, Bradford and Bingley.<br />

Louise Pryor, chair-designate at Ecology,<br />

led the selection process. She said: “He<br />

emerged as the outstanding candidate to<br />

lead the society, demonstrating a deep<br />

commitment to ethical finance, ensuring<br />

money has a positive impact on pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

and planet, combined with significant<br />

banking experience.<br />

“In my new role as chair of Ecology I look<br />

forward to working with Gareth to build<br />

on the society’s excellent performance to<br />

accelerate our mission to build a greener<br />

society while enhancing the services we<br />

provide to our members.”<br />

Mr Griffiths said: “It is an honour to be<br />

joining Ecology Building Society, which<br />

was founded to make better use of natural<br />

resources and reverse environmental<br />

degradation. Forty years on, Ecology’s<br />

p New CEO Gareth Griffiths<br />

mission has never been more relevant,<br />

with the need to address the climate crisis,<br />

deepening financial inequalities and<br />

transforming the UK’s housing stock at<br />

the heart of the sustainability challenge.<br />

“I will be agitating for change in a broken<br />

financial system, which has invested over<br />

£150bn into fossil fuels since the 2015<br />

Paris Climate Accord. At the same time<br />

my focus will be dedicated to supporting<br />

Ecology’s excellent team to continue<br />

delivering award-wining service.”<br />

Alongside Mr Griffiths’ appointment,,<br />

Ecology released its results for the year to<br />

31 December 2021, with a 13.4% increase<br />

in total assets taking it past £250m for the<br />

first time.<br />

The mutual also reported a record<br />

77% increase in new mortgage lending,<br />

enabled by a 15% increase in the number<br />

of members saving with the society. Profit<br />

after tax rose to £1.019m, from £0.524m.<br />

During the year, Ecology says it lent<br />

over £69.4m, supporting 371 sustainable<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erties and projects, and ended the<br />

year with a 22.3% growth in mortgage<br />

assets. This growth was supported by the<br />

society’s enhanced capital position as a<br />

result of the core capital deferred shares<br />

(CCDS) capital raise in 2020.<br />

Outgoing CEO Paul Ellis, who steps<br />

down after 27 years in the role, and 40<br />

years with the society, said: “These results<br />

mark an outstanding year of sustainable<br />

growth for Ecology demonstrating, more<br />

than ever, the strength of our lending<br />

model and the importance of finance<br />

that has a positive impact for pe<strong>op</strong>le and<br />

our planet.<br />

“I am departing Ecology well assured<br />

that I will be leaving the society in the<br />

very capable hands of those who are<br />

determined to build on its legacy as a<br />

leading example of the transformative<br />

power of ethical finance.”<br />

ENERGY<br />

Egni brings the sunshine for Welsh government<br />

Three schools, a care home and a<br />

crematorium in Newport will be among<br />

the first buildings to have rooft<strong>op</strong> solar<br />

installed under a Welsh government<br />

scheme to expand community renewables.<br />

The panels, which will produce 2MWof<br />

electricity, will be installed by solar<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> Egni, which has been awarded<br />

nearly £2.35m in funding.<br />

The Welsh government says it is<br />

committed to expanding renewable<br />

energy generation by public bodies and<br />

community groups in Wales by over 100<br />

megawatts by 2026.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ming in response to the climate<br />

emergency and concerns over escalating<br />

living costs and global energy security, the<br />

overall government project is projected to<br />

save 3,700 tonnes of carbon and realise<br />

significant savings on bills.<br />

Teaching on climate is mandatory in<br />

Wales’ new school curriculum – and Egni<br />

has pledged to reinvest surplus money<br />

from energy sold back to the grid into<br />

further climate change education.<br />

Caerleon <strong>Co</strong>mprehensive School<br />

is already benefiting from an Egni<br />

installation. Speaking on a visit there,<br />

deputy climate change minister Lee<br />

Waters MS said: “Our vision is clear, we<br />

want Wales to generate renewable energy<br />

to at least fully meet our energy needs<br />

and use surplus generation to tackle the<br />

nature and climate emergencies.<br />

“With each IPCC report, the reality of<br />

the climate emergency hits home and we<br />

want Wales to play its part in the global<br />

response by hitting Net Zero by 2050.”<br />

Egni, which will own and manage<br />

the panels, has already connected solar<br />

Photo: iStock<br />

panels producing 4.3MW of energy to<br />

almost 90 buildings in Wales, and last<br />

year became the biggest rooft<strong>op</strong> solar co<strong>op</strong><br />

in the UK.<br />

Dan McCallum from Egni <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

said: “We are delighted with this Welsh<br />

government support.<br />

“Egni is already the largest rooft<strong>op</strong><br />

solar co-<strong>op</strong> in the UK which shows how a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative approach can enable Wales<br />

to achieve great things. It’s vital that co-<strong>op</strong><br />

based renewable energy scales up rapidly.<br />

Renewables are our energy of freedom and<br />

Welsh pe<strong>op</strong>le deserve a future free from<br />

fossil fuels.”<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 9


Credit unions sound the alarm on cost of living crisis<br />

With soaring energy bills and food<br />

inflation continuing to drive a squeeze<br />

on household budgets, credit unions are<br />

warning of increased pressure on their<br />

members’ finances.<br />

Wales’ Cambrian Credit Union has<br />

told ITV Wales that it has seen a surge in<br />

loan applications – not to pay for one-off<br />

projects, but to cover the cost of everyday<br />

essentials and household bills.<br />

General manager Ann Francis told<br />

ITV: “Pe<strong>op</strong>le are finding just paying for<br />

food is much more of a stretch on their<br />

budget, they’re really concerned about the<br />

increase of gas and electric. A lot of our<br />

members have had the uplift in Universal<br />

Credit taken away ... and they are very<br />

concerned about how they are going to<br />

make ends meet.”<br />

This is particularly acute in the lowincome<br />

areas covered by Cambrian, she<br />

added. “Their affordability is limited<br />

anyway. And it just erodes any kind of<br />

disposable income that they have … They<br />

are literally asking for loans just to survive.”<br />

As well as t<strong>op</strong>-up loans to pay for<br />

household costs, members are looking for<br />

consolidation loans to free up disposable<br />

income and help them keep up with all<br />

their payments.<br />

In Northern Ireland, Ballymena and<br />

Causeway Credit Union has responded<br />

to surging prices – with the cost of home<br />

heating oil doubling in some places – by<br />

dr<strong>op</strong>ping the interest rate on its loans.<br />

Marketing manager Julie Martin told<br />

Belfast <strong>News</strong> Letter: “We always would<br />

have had a home heating loan in place<br />

at a lower rate, which is only for home<br />

heating. We know that times are tough for<br />

everyone at the moment.”<br />

“Our normal rate is 8% and we’ve<br />

lowered it to 4.9%. It was done as a<br />

goodwill gesture, really, to help pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

and let them know that we are here.”<br />

She continued: “Pe<strong>op</strong>le are struggling.<br />

We would even find that we’ve had a<br />

few pe<strong>op</strong>le contact us to say that they’re<br />

struggling with the repayments on their<br />

loans, because of the cost of everything at<br />

the minute. Our home heating loans have<br />

almost doubled in the last month.<br />

“The average member would have taken<br />

out £300 before the increase and now the<br />

average is £570.”<br />

In England, Leeds Credit Union (LCU)<br />

has also raised its concerns. Last month<br />

CEO Paul Kaye warned that chancellor<br />

Rishi Sunak’s spring budget did not go far<br />

enough to help pe<strong>op</strong>le through the price<br />

squeeze. “Some policies in the spring<br />

statement certainly offer some short term<br />

help,” he said. “However it’s impossible<br />

to believe the new measures alone will<br />

alleviate the negative impact that the<br />

ever-increasing cost of living is having on<br />

ordinary, hard-working families.<br />

“For society’s most financially unstable,<br />

there is still the very real possibility that<br />

they will be forced to choose between<br />

eating or heating which, in <strong>2022</strong>, clearly<br />

should not be the case. As a credit union,<br />

one of our greatest concerns is that those<br />

most at risk of falling between the cracks<br />

will be tempted to <strong>op</strong>t for a short-term<br />

cash injection to help pay their bills and<br />

borrow from high cost lenders or, worse<br />

still, loan sharks. Needless to say, this is<br />

not a route anyone should go down.”<br />

Mr Kaye said pe<strong>op</strong>le need better<br />

financial education to help them manage<br />

their money, adding that the government<br />

must to do more to support businesses<br />

and help pe<strong>op</strong>le into work.<br />

Last week a survey of its members by<br />

LCU revealed that, of 2,111 respondents,<br />

28% expect to save no money in the next<br />

12 months, and 43% expect to save less<br />

than they did last year. And 41% said their<br />

financial situation has worsened over<br />

the last 12 months, with 13% saying their<br />

position is much worse.<br />

Almost half (47%) expect their<br />

household economic situation to worsen<br />

and 15% fear it will get ‘much worse’. Only<br />

27% expect things to improve.<br />

Stephen Porter, head of member<br />

experience, said: “While the results aren’t<br />

surprising given the ongoing cost of living<br />

crisis, they are deeply worrying.<br />

“The fact that 28% of respondents said<br />

they don’t expect to save a single penny<br />

over the next 12 months is heartbreaking.<br />

As a credit union, we know only too well<br />

the impact that money worries and a lack<br />

of financial resilience can have on pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

and their mental health. Frankly, it is<br />

unconscionable that so many pe<strong>op</strong>le find<br />

themselves in this position.<br />

“The fact that many ordinary<br />

households are simply planning to st<strong>op</strong><br />

spending in order to mitigate skyrocketing<br />

prices is a huge cause for concern too as<br />

it is likely to see any economic growth<br />

struggle to gain momentum.”<br />

For those in trouble, Ms Francis at<br />

Cambrian suggests going to the CAB for<br />

advice or visiting the local credit union.<br />

LCU also highlighted the value of<br />

credit unions. Paul Kaye said: “I would<br />

encourage anyone facing financial<br />

hardship – regardless of their level of<br />

income – to contact their local credit<br />

union, who can offer them the affordable<br />

loans, access to savings accounts, advice<br />

and support they need to make it through<br />

this period of economic uncertainty.<br />

“By helping vulnerable households<br />

plan their finances and assessing their<br />

debts, affordable borrowing can help<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le make their money go further at a<br />

time when prudence has never been more<br />

important.”<br />

10 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>


Serve CEO Paul Norgrove appointed Abcul president<br />

The board of the Association of British<br />

Credit Unions (Abcul) has appointed Paul<br />

Norgrove president of the association.<br />

He takes over from Karen Bennett who<br />

has served as president of Abcul for the<br />

past four years.<br />

Mr Norgrove thanked Ms Bennett “for<br />

all she has done to move the association<br />

and the sector forward in her time on the<br />

board,” adding: “I owe Karen a deep debt<br />

of gratitude for her leadership, vision and<br />

determination to put members’ interests<br />

first at all times.”<br />

Abcul is the main trade association<br />

for credit unions in Britain, representing<br />

the majority of British credit unions<br />

to governments, policy makers and<br />

the media. It is governed by a board of<br />

volunteer directors who appoint officers,<br />

such as the president, vice president,<br />

treasurer and secretary from members of<br />

the board.<br />

“I am truly honoured and proud to<br />

be elected by the Abcul board,” said Mr<br />

Norgrove. “I will do my best to lead the<br />

board in the exciting times ahead and<br />

always seek to improve our service to<br />

members.”<br />

Mr Norgrove’s experience in the credit<br />

union sector spans a decade, and prior<br />

to this he worked in non-profits. He is<br />

currently chief executive of Serve and<br />

Protect Credit Union, which provides<br />

financial services to police, prison,<br />

military, fire and health service personnel<br />

and their families in the UK.<br />

He received the World Young<br />

Credit Union Professionals (WYCUP)<br />

scholarship in 2014 and serves on the<br />

WYCUP Steering <strong>Co</strong>mmittee. He is cofounder<br />

and former chair of the Abcul<br />

Young Professionals Network.<br />

“Through my experience in the sector,<br />

I have gained a greater sense of the<br />

challenges and <strong>op</strong>portunities facing<br />

credit unions,” said Mr Norgrove. “I am<br />

very thankful and looking forward to<br />

continuing to work amongst industry<br />

leaders, hear new perspectives and<br />

provide my voice and vision.<br />

“I look forward to leading the board<br />

and working with member credit<br />

unions in the months and years ahead.<br />

Challenges remain in place for the sector<br />

to navigate but we also have hugely<br />

exciting <strong>op</strong>portunities in front of us.<br />

Let’s grasp those <strong>op</strong>portunities and work<br />

collaboratively to deliver real change.”<br />


UK mutuals pay out more than £34m in income protection claims<br />

Members of the Association of Financial<br />

Mutuals (AFM) that offer income protection<br />

paid out 94.1% of claims received in 2021,<br />

up from 93.9% the previous year, figures<br />

reveal.<br />

In total, AFM says its providers paid<br />

out around £34m in claims to 10,300<br />

policyholders in 2021 (including nearly<br />

8,200 new claimants). There had been a<br />

spike in new claims in 2020, and the 2021<br />

volume represents a 17% fall, although<br />

the figure is still 5% higher than before the<br />

pandemic.<br />

Despite the reduction in the number<br />

of claims, <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 continued to have a<br />

prominent effect, with claims related to<br />

the virus accounting for 20% of all claims<br />

– compared to around 25% in 2020.<br />

While the volume of new claims fell<br />

17%, the actual value paid fell only by 7%,<br />

indicating that there was a larger volume<br />

of long-term payments in the year, and<br />

that the costs of claims are rising.<br />

Musculoskeletal problems were the<br />

most common reason for claiming,<br />

amounting to 31% of claims in 2021, with<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid claims (20%) and mental health<br />

(9%), the other most frequent reasons.<br />

The relatively small number of claims<br />

rejected were typically as a result of not<br />

disclosing key information at the point of<br />

application or claim (39%), or for a claim<br />

that is either for an excluded condition, or<br />

is outside the sc<strong>op</strong>e of the policy (37%).<br />

This highlights the need for customers and<br />

intermediaries to provide full and frank<br />

information as early as possible when<br />

completing an application or submitting a<br />

claim, says AFM.<br />

While 5.9% of claims were rejected<br />

overall, only 3% of <strong>Co</strong>vid claims were<br />

not paid, which AFM says shows “the<br />

particular value of a friendly society<br />

provider, as many of their policies will<br />

cover short-term illnesses”.<br />

Mutuals may have a deferred period<br />

of one day or one week, compared to<br />

typically three months or more for a nonmutual,<br />

it adds.<br />

AFM says the mutual product is<br />

particularly important if the illness means<br />

there is no early way to return to work; in<br />

2021, the average claim on a full income<br />

protection policy ran for 29 weeks, though<br />

many claims ran for considerably longer: in<br />

2020, one in seven claims ran for more than<br />

two years. This means that families that<br />

would otherwise be forced to rely on State<br />

support only, can maintain their standard<br />

of living during a protracted illness.<br />

Martin Shaw, chief executive of AFM,<br />

added: “The cost of living crisis, fuelled by<br />

rising bills and high levels of inflation, is a<br />

source of concern for every family. There<br />

has also been a steep rise in the number<br />

of working-age pe<strong>op</strong>le suffering long-term<br />

illness in the last two years (more than a<br />

third of workers according to the Office for<br />

National Statistics).<br />

“Together, these forces are encouraging<br />

more pe<strong>op</strong>le to consider buying an income<br />

protection policy. Our latest statistics<br />

show mutual providers can best support<br />

you, in both the short- and the long-term,<br />

as they pay the vast majority of claims.”<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 11


110-year-old Welsh wool mill becomes employee owned<br />

A woollen mill, sh<strong>op</strong> and cafe on the<br />

Pembrokeshire coast has transitioned to<br />

an employee ownership trust (EOT) after<br />

being run by the same family since it was<br />

established 110 years ago.<br />

For the past 35 years Melin Tregwynt has<br />

been run by Amanda and Eifion Griffiths,<br />

who have chosen to step back from the<br />

firm, favouring an employee ownership<br />

model over selling to an outside buyer.<br />

Mr Griffiths said an EOT provided<br />

“the perfect solution” for ensuring the<br />

business remained viable and rooted<br />

in the local community. “We will guide<br />

the new management board through the<br />

transition,” he added. “Most importantly<br />

the 42-strong workforce will keep their<br />

jobs and skills and knowledge will remain<br />

here and be kept alive.”<br />

He added: “We are still very much a<br />

family business. Many employees have<br />

worked here for decades, and we even had<br />

three generations of one family as part of<br />

our team. I am proud to be passing on the<br />

company to the new employee board who<br />

I know will take the business to new levels<br />

of growth.”<br />

Melin Tregwynt received support from<br />

the Social Business Wales programme,<br />

funded by the Welsh government and the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Regional Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Fund.<br />

The programme is delivered by Wales<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Centre (now Cwmpas, see<br />

p42-43), whose CEO Derek Walker said:<br />

“It is wonderful to see an EOT being used<br />

to safeguard not only jobs, but also the<br />

heritage. It is a great way to pass thriving<br />

companies onto the next generation and<br />

is why we want to encourage more soon<br />

to be retiring founders and employees to<br />

consider it as an <strong>op</strong>tion.”<br />

Louise Clarke, Melin Tregwynt’s retail<br />

manager, said: “Melin Tregwynt has such<br />

a strong base here in West Wales it would<br />

have been a tragedy to see it bought out by<br />

another company and possibly changed<br />

forever, so we are honoured that the<br />

Griffiths family has chosen to trust us as<br />

employees with their family business. I<br />

can’t wait to see what the future holds for<br />

us at Melin Tregwynt.”<br />


Manchester recycler Emerge launches a community share offer<br />

Emerge Recycling, a community benefit<br />

society providing waste recycling<br />

and reuse services for business and<br />

organisations across Greater Manchester,<br />

has launched a community share offer to<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> its <strong>op</strong>erations.<br />

The social enterprise, which offers<br />

services such as ISO9001 accredited<br />

confidential shredding, waste electrical<br />

goods processing, wood waste collections<br />

and kerbside collections, wants the funds<br />

to devel<strong>op</strong> a new depot, grow its team and<br />

make its <strong>op</strong>erations more sustainable.<br />

It says it is “excited to offer the local<br />

community and the general public an<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to join us in pioneering reuse<br />

and recycling for social good by helping<br />

us to devel<strong>op</strong> our longstanding business<br />

and deliver a revitalised business plan<br />

over the next three years.<br />

“We’re looking for kind and<br />

compassionate investors, who want<br />

to make a difference and help their<br />

community in devel<strong>op</strong>ing a more<br />

sustainable future.”<br />

The share offer will help to fund a<br />

number of initiatives, including:<br />

• a new depot inside <strong>May</strong>nard House<br />

• recruitment<br />

• greener vehicles<br />

• solar energy and biodiversity<br />

• digitisation devel<strong>op</strong>ment to enable<br />

greater <strong>op</strong>erational efficiency<br />

• beginning the process of securing<br />

ISO27001.<br />

The minimum target for the share offer<br />

is £140,000 and the maximum target<br />

is £300,000; the minimum investment<br />

permitted is £200 and the maximum<br />

investment is £30,000.<br />

Emerge added: “We are looking to<br />

attract investor members who support the<br />

purpose of Emerge Recycling rather than<br />

those seeking financial returns. As such,<br />

the level of return is designed to be the<br />

minimum sufficient to attract and retain<br />

the investment.<br />

“Our financial modelling indicates that<br />

we will be able to pay up to 4% interest on<br />

members’ shares from the financial year<br />

2024/5.”<br />

The shares will qualify for social<br />

investment tax relief (SITR), which means<br />

individuals can benefit from 30% income<br />

tax relief on the amount invested (subject<br />

to your personal tax position).<br />

12 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

ENERGY<br />

Edinburgh solar co-<strong>op</strong><br />

re-<strong>op</strong>ens its community<br />

benefit scheme<br />

Edinburgh <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Solar <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has re<strong>op</strong>ened<br />

its benefit scheme to applications<br />

for grant funding from community<br />

focused organisations in the city.<br />

The energy co-<strong>op</strong> raises capital from the<br />

public to place solar panel installations<br />

on City of Edinburgh <strong>Co</strong>uncil buildings<br />

(schools, leisure centres and other council<br />

owned buildings). As well as paying<br />

annual returns to investors, it allocates<br />

part of the profits to community causes<br />

that benefit the pe<strong>op</strong>le of Edinburgh.<br />

In the latest round of this community<br />

funding, applicants can apply for a<br />

minimum of £1,000 and a maximum of<br />

£5,000. Eligible organisations can apply<br />

for the full cost of a project or a smaller<br />

contribution to a larger project. The<br />

average grant is likely to be in the region<br />

of £1,500.<br />

Funds for larger projects will not<br />

be released until the applicant can<br />

demonstrate that they have the remainder<br />

of the funds in place.<br />

Applications are now <strong>op</strong>en with a<br />

closing date of 30 June <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

Eligible organisations include schools<br />

and leisure centres, sports clubs,<br />

registered charities or community<br />

organisations with a focus on: children<br />

and young pe<strong>op</strong>le; the environment and<br />

sustainability; and outdoor education.<br />

• Suitable projects would focus on:<br />

• Environment/sustainability education<br />

• Environmental improvements to<br />

buildings used by communities<br />

• Health, wellbeing and inclusion (for<br />

example community gardens, healthy<br />

eating programmes, or improved access<br />

to facilities for pe<strong>op</strong>le with additional<br />

mobility needs)<br />

• Small-scale renewables/activities that<br />

reduce carbon<br />

• Initiatives that address fuel poverty.<br />

Channel Islands <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> to hold quiet hours for autism<br />

Channel Islands <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is to hold quiet<br />

hours in its stores to help customers with<br />

autism. The hour, devel<strong>op</strong>ed with charities<br />

Autism Jersey and Autism Guernsey, runs<br />

every Monday from 3-4pm at the St Helier,<br />

St Peter, St Martin and St Sampson stores.<br />

Measures include dimmed lights, turning<br />

off music and tannoys, and quiet tills.<br />

Scotmid <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> begins search for new charity partner<br />

Charities are being invited by independent<br />

retail co-<strong>op</strong> Scotmid to become its new<br />

charity partner for <strong>2022</strong>/23.<br />

The society says it is looking for an<br />

organisation that shares its values and<br />

passion for supporting local communities<br />

and would like to build a creative partnership<br />

to encourage participation and fundraising<br />

from staff, members and customers.<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> backs nature project on the Isle of Wight<br />

Work to help nature recover in Portsmouth<br />

is being extended to the Isle of Wight,<br />

thanks to funding from independent retail<br />

society Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust<br />

h<strong>op</strong>es to replicate the success of its ‘Wilder<br />

Portsmouth’ project – also supported by<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and which has helped<br />

build a nature recovery network across<br />

the city – on the island.<br />

Lincolnshire <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> rewards colleagues with awards week<br />

<strong>Co</strong>lleagues at Lincolnshire <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> have<br />

been recognised with awards for providing<br />

valued services to their communities and<br />

making a positive difference.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>lleagues Awards Week <strong>2022</strong> sees the<br />

overall Branches of the Year celebrated<br />

as well as individuals and teams given<br />

awards for going the extra mile.<br />

Thieves target Heart of England store defibrillators<br />

Heart of England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is to lock away the<br />

public defibrillators at its stores outside of<br />

trading hours, following a spate of thefts.<br />

Thieves have been using crowbars to<br />

remove the life-saving devices from several<br />

of the society’s sites. In response, the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

will have to lock the surviving defibrillators<br />

away and the public will only be able to<br />

access them during <strong>op</strong>ening hours.<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 13


GLOBAL<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s mentioned in ILO report on SSE<br />

The International Labour Organization<br />

has published a report on Decent Work<br />

and the Social and Solidarity Economy,<br />

which highlights the sector’s contribution<br />

to empowering workers around the world.<br />

The report mentions how the SSE – which<br />

includes co-<strong>op</strong>s, mutuals, associations,<br />

foundations, social enterprises and selfhelp<br />

groups – promotes international<br />

labour standards and compliance with<br />

the fundamental principles and rights in<br />

the workplace .<br />

The document mentions some of the<br />

contributions of the SSE to decent work,<br />

such as facilitating access to social<br />

protection for their members, empowering<br />

informal workers, fostering social<br />

dialogue, promoting gender equality and<br />

enabling women take leadership roles.<br />

Furthermore, the report explains that<br />

the SSE can also create jobs through<br />

worker-owned enterprises such as worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, which, it adds, “can<br />

be an effective strategy for generating<br />

employment and supporting livelihoods,<br />

especially among informal workers”.<br />

There is a still a problem, the report<br />

adds, because the term SSE lacks universal<br />

acceptance. Other closely associated terms<br />

include “social economy”, “third sector”,<br />

“social enterprise”, “non-profit sector”,<br />

”solidarity economy”, “alternative<br />

economy” and “p<strong>op</strong>ular economy.<br />

The report tries to help define the SSE<br />

by providing a set of values distinguishing<br />

it from other subsets of the economy:<br />

social or public purpose; prohibition<br />

or limitation of profit distribution;<br />

democratic and participatory governance;<br />

voluntary co<strong>op</strong>eration; and autonomy<br />

and independence.<br />

In terms of challenges for the<br />

sector, the report adds that despite the<br />

growing momentum around the SSE,<br />

several barriers continue to restrict its<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment. It suggests devel<strong>op</strong>ing an<br />

enabling environment for the SSE through<br />

tripartite participation with representative<br />

organisations of employers and workers,<br />

as well as in consultation with other<br />

relevant and representative organisations<br />

of persons concerned.<br />

Recommendations in the report include<br />

ensuring a conducive environment to<br />

ensure a level playing field for SSE and<br />

other enterprises and ad<strong>op</strong>ting SSE<br />

legislation that explicitly recognises SSE<br />

values and principles provides a strong<br />

basis for promoting the SSE.<br />

The report was produced for the 110th<br />

session of the International Labour<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nference in Geneva, in June <strong>2022</strong>, which<br />

will focus on Decent Work and the Social<br />

and Solidarity Economy.<br />

CANADA<br />

Federal<br />

government launches<br />

biggest co-<strong>op</strong> housing<br />

drive in 30 years<br />

Canada’s federal <strong>2022</strong> budget pledges<br />

to allocate new funding to expand the<br />

country’s co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing sector.<br />

The Canadian government’s budget<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>oses to reallocate CA$500m of<br />

funding on a cash basis from the National<br />

Housing <strong>Co</strong>-Investment Fund to launch a<br />

new <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing Devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

Program. National sector apex the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Housing Federation will codesign<br />

the programme with involvement<br />

from the co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing sector.<br />

The budget also pledges to allocate CA<br />

$1bn in loans to be reallocated from the<br />

Rental <strong>Co</strong>nstruction Financing Initiative<br />

to support co-<strong>op</strong> housing projects.<br />

“For generations, co-<strong>op</strong>s have offered<br />

quality, affordable housing to Canadians,<br />

while empowering their members through<br />

inclusion, personal devel<strong>op</strong>ment,<br />

and security of tenure through their<br />

community-oriented model of housing,”<br />

read a government statement. “While co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

are home to approximately a quarter<br />

of a million Canadians, not enough have<br />

been built in recent years.”<br />

The government estimates that 6,000<br />

units will be constructed under the<br />

scheme, making it the largest investment<br />

in building new co-<strong>op</strong> housing for more<br />

than 30 years.<br />

Reacting to the budget, the executive<br />

director of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing<br />

Federation of Canada (CHF Canada), Tim<br />

Ross, said: “Today’s federal budget is<br />

a turning point, as it acknowledges the<br />

unique value of co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing and<br />

commits to its expansion.<br />

“Starting with 6,000 new homes over<br />

the next five years, we are <strong>op</strong>timistic the<br />

new <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing Devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

Program will kick-start the devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

of the next generation of co-<strong>op</strong> housing<br />

at a scale that will help solve the housing<br />

crisis. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> housing is affordable, secure<br />

and enables the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of strong,<br />

inclusive communities, all of which we<br />

need more than ever.”<br />

The government is also carrying out<br />

a programme of repairs, refurbishment,<br />

and climate-friendly retrofits on existing<br />

housing co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

14 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

EUROPE<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s Eur<strong>op</strong>e’s response to the EC’s Social Economy Action Plan<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e has released<br />

a position paper on the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission’s Action Plan for the Social<br />

Economy, which was released in 2021.<br />

The apex, which represents co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

enterprises across the continent, made a<br />

series of recommendations while raising<br />

concerns about certain aspects of the plan.<br />

This includes the need for a common<br />

understanding of the social economy so<br />

that a coherent set of initiatives can be<br />

built. <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s Eur<strong>op</strong>e says the <strong>Co</strong>mmission<br />

should establish clear guidelines<br />

common to all EU member states to<br />

avoid differences in implementation, or<br />

implementation “in silos” across actors.<br />

Its paper adds that the need for<br />

clarification also applies to the<br />

definition of some entities, especially<br />

social enterprises, whose method of<br />

organisation and ownership is described<br />

as “democratic or participatory”.<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s Eur<strong>op</strong>e argues that the<br />

governance pillar is just as important as<br />

the objectives or missions in other forms<br />

of enterprises.<br />

When it comes to legal frameworks,<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Eur<strong>op</strong>e says there are vast<br />

inequalities among member states,<br />

which remained unaddressed. Member<br />

states should therefore be encouraged<br />

to promote all types of co-<strong>op</strong>, in all<br />

sectors of the economy, through adequate<br />

legal frameworks, policy support, and<br />

financial support.<br />

The apex also raises concerns about<br />

the lack of common understanding of the<br />

social economy, labels and certifications,<br />

which, it says, could create confusion<br />

when implemented nationally.<br />

While the use of social clauses in the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission’s own tendering procedures<br />

can help grow the sector, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s Eur<strong>op</strong>e<br />

says “a more binding and ambitious<br />

approach was expected with specific<br />

targets and benchmarks”. And the apex<br />

praises the <strong>Co</strong>mmission’s efforts to boost<br />

the social economy in regions and rural<br />

areas but says this should also include<br />

allocating resources to well-established<br />

rural businesses in rural areas, such as<br />

agri co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

The Action Plan does not pay enough<br />

attention to international co-<strong>op</strong>eration,<br />

the apex warns, adding: “The actions<br />

foreseen by the <strong>Co</strong>mmission are limited<br />

in sc<strong>op</strong>e – to social enterprises – and<br />

in space to the western Balkans, the<br />

southern neighbourhood, and the eastern<br />

partnership”.<br />

As such, it calls for actions related to<br />

international co-<strong>op</strong>eration to go beyond<br />

these regions and encourages the<br />

ad<strong>op</strong>tion of concrete measures.<br />


Automation rolls<br />

on with unmanned <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

store in Strakonice<br />

Czech retail chain <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> has <strong>op</strong>ened a new<br />

concept store in Strakonice city centre,<br />

where customers can sh<strong>op</strong> 24/7.<br />

To sh<strong>op</strong> outside of standard <strong>op</strong>ening<br />

hours customers, need to install an app on<br />

their devices, which after the first log-in via<br />

their bank identity will generate a unique<br />

QR code each time they visit the store,<br />

enabling them to enter. Payment is made<br />

by card through self-service cash registers.<br />

“We want these stores to be for everyone”<br />

said Lukáš Nemcík, devel<strong>op</strong>ment and<br />

marketing director, who <strong>op</strong>ened the store.<br />

“Of course, within the standard <strong>op</strong>ening<br />

hours, the store will continue to be staffed,<br />

but outside this time it will <strong>op</strong>erate in<br />

automatic mode.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>, which plans a second store of this<br />

format in Ceský Krumlov in the coming<br />

months, was inspired by Scandinavian co<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

which <strong>op</strong>erate similar format stores.<br />

“We think that the concept of automated<br />

stores has the greatest potential in small<br />

and medium-sized cities due to the<br />

changing structure of customers, most of<br />

whom require the most flexible services,”<br />

said Mr Nemcík.<br />

“In addition, in these localities,<br />

for example, only large sh<strong>op</strong>s on the<br />

outskirts, which are often only accessible<br />

by car, are often <strong>op</strong>en in the early evening<br />

or on weekends. For fast sh<strong>op</strong>ping, a<br />

constantly <strong>op</strong>en automatic store within<br />

walking distance is an ideal solution.”<br />

These types of stores are particularly<br />

suitable for customers wishing to make<br />

small purchases.<br />

“We also consider our focus on regional<br />

food to be important. For example, we sell<br />

bread from local bakeries or cold cuts from<br />

local butchers. It does not make sense for<br />

this type of goods to be difficult to travel<br />

around the country, as is the case with<br />

multinational chains,” added Mr Nemcík.<br />

“Every visitor to the store will be<br />

uniquely identified thanks to this system,<br />

so it is not a problem, for example, if they<br />

buy more than one customer at a time,”<br />

said Pavel Kozler from Knowinstore, the<br />

firm which devel<strong>op</strong>ed the technology used<br />

in the store. “The customer will be able<br />

to leave the store with the purchase only<br />

after verification of payment.”<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 15


Irish minister<br />

visits north of England<br />

credit unions<br />

Seán Fleming, the Irish minister of state<br />

with responsibility for financial services,<br />

credit unions and insurance, paid a visit<br />

to the north of England on 15 March where<br />

he met with representatives of British<br />

credit unions.<br />

The exchange was organised by the<br />

Swoboda Research Centre (formerly<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating as the Centre for <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Finance Eur<strong>op</strong>e), which was set up in<br />

2017 to produce, facilitate and stimulate<br />

action-orientated research that supports<br />

the credit union movement.<br />

Along with colleagues from the Ministry<br />

of Finance and the Irish <strong>Co</strong>nsulate<br />

overseas trade teams, the minister heard<br />

about the similarities and differences<br />

between the Irish and the British credit<br />

union movements, as well as the Swoboda<br />

Research Centre’s thoughts on issues<br />

around green lending.<br />

p Nick Money (Swoboda), Christine Moore (Manchester Credit Union), Caroline Domanski (No1<br />

<strong>Co</strong>pperPot Credit Union and Swoboda), John Haslam (Abcul), minister Seán Fleming and Paul A.<br />

Jones (Swoboda)<br />

Mr Fleming, who is also Assembly<br />

delegate for the constituency of Laois<br />

Offaly, met CEOs of Swoboda members<br />

Manchester Credit Union and No1<br />

<strong>Co</strong>pperPot Credit Union, Christine Moore<br />

and Caroline Domanski.<br />

They discussed their credit unions’<br />

high loan-to-savings ratios relative to the<br />

average in Ireland, and mortgage lending.<br />

John Haslam from the Association of<br />

British Credit Unions Limited (Abcul)<br />

also joined the meeting for a conversation<br />

on strategic mergers.<br />

“I enjoyed meeting members of the<br />

British credit union movement,” said Mr<br />

Fleming, as he thanking the meetings<br />

organisers, hosts and participants.<br />

“It’s important we share our learnings<br />

and experience to build relationships<br />

and grow.”<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> banking<br />

figure to represent<br />

industry on Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

sustainability board<br />

In March the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Financial<br />

Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG)<br />

set up a new Sustainability Reporting<br />

Board, which provides technical advice<br />

to the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission on draft EU<br />

Sustainability Reporting Standards.<br />

One of the members of the newly<br />

created board is Annina Tanhuanpää<br />

of the Finnish co-<strong>op</strong>erative bank, OP<br />

Financial Group, who was nominated by<br />

the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Association of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Banks (EACB), the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Banking<br />

Federation (EBF) and the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Saving<br />

Banks Group (ESBG).<br />

OP is Finland’s largest financial services<br />

group, with 121 OP co-<strong>op</strong>erative banks,<br />

two million customer-owners, 13,000<br />

employees, and a 38% retail and corporate<br />

banking market share.<br />

Ms Tanhuanpää told EACB: “I am<br />

excited and honoured to join EFRAG’s new<br />

Sustainability Reporting Board. Together<br />

with the wide range of experts of the<br />

Technical Expert Group (TEG), the board<br />

will be building the EU Sustainability<br />

Reporting Standards, which will<br />

subsequently be ad<strong>op</strong>ted by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission (EC) via delegated acts”.<br />

EACB CEO Nina Schindler said:<br />

“The EACB warmly welcomes Annina’s<br />

appointment and is proud that the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

banking networks could present<br />

such a high-level leadership profile.<br />

“We are convinced Annina is an<br />

excellent choice: her profile combines indepth<br />

knowledge of ESG reporting and<br />

of the banking business with political<br />

awareness. I wish Annina and the new<br />

EFRAG board much success in achieving<br />

the EU targets under a tight timeframe.”<br />

The EFRAG Sustainability Reporting<br />

Board brings together representatives<br />

from Eur<strong>op</strong>ean stakeholders, national<br />

organisations and civil society<br />

organisations.<br />

16 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

KENYA<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Bank of Kenya reports record profit<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Bank of Kenya increased<br />

its profit by 59% in 2021.<br />

The bank reported a Kshs 22.6bn (£150m)<br />

profit before tax last year, up from Kshs<br />

14.3bn (£95m) in 2020. Meanwhile, its posttax<br />

profit was Kshs 16.5bn (£109m) in 2021<br />

compared to Kshs 10.8bn (£71m) in 2020.<br />

The value of the bank’s assets also<br />

increased by 8% to Kshs 579.8 bn (£3.85bn)<br />

in 2021 while its total <strong>op</strong>erating income<br />

grew by 12% to Kshs 60.4 bn (£401m). The<br />

bank served over nine million account<br />

holders in 2021.<br />

Other 2021 highlights included moving<br />

94% of all customer transactions to<br />

alternative delivery channels including<br />

Internet, mobile banking and e-wallets,<br />

and expanding its 24-hour contact centre.<br />

Since 2018 the bank has also been offering<br />

packages for micro, small and medium<br />

sized enterprises (MSMEs). Over 144,000<br />

customers have taken up the MSME<br />

packages since 2018 and 19,963 have been<br />

trained on business management skills.<br />

Since launching its ECredit solution, the<br />

bank has disbursed Kshs 42.5bn (£282m)<br />

to MSMEs.<br />

Meanwhile the bank’s Foundation<br />

provided over 650 scholarships in 2021,<br />

which included fully paid secondary<br />

education, tuition fees for university<br />

education and internships.<br />

Group managing director and CEO Dr<br />

Gideon Muriuki said: “The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Bank Group continues to execute a proactive<br />

growth strategy anchored on a strong<br />

enterprise risk management framework,<br />

and deepening of our market dominance.<br />

Credit: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank of Kenya<br />

We shall, riding on the unique synergies<br />

in the over 15 million-member co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement that is the largest in Africa,<br />

continue to pursue strategic initiatives<br />

that focus on resilience and growth in the<br />

various sectors of the economy.”<br />

Dr Muriuki received the Best Bank CEO<br />

in Africa Award at 2021 EMEA Awards,<br />

where the bank was praised for sustaining<br />

the same level of dividend payments to<br />

shareholders despite the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 crisis.<br />

GLOBAL<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> insurers beat their local markets for growth, ICMIF figures reveal<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> insurers have been bucking local<br />

trends for market growth over the last<br />

financial year, according to figures from<br />

the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative and Mutual<br />

Insurance Federation (ICMIF).<br />

The latest edition of the ICMIF Members:<br />

Key Statistics <strong>2022</strong> report shows that 70%<br />

of ICMIF members exceeded their local<br />

market’s annual growth.<br />

These results follow positive findings<br />

from the ICMIF Members Sustainable<br />

Investment Report 2021, where 80%<br />

of ICMIF members named in the study<br />

exceeded the total market’s annual<br />

premium growth for last year.<br />

The ICMIF Members: Key Statistics <strong>2022</strong><br />

report provides analysis of the collective<br />

performance of the 200 members that<br />

make up ICMIF today and how they<br />

perform against the wider market in both<br />

long-term and short-term comparisons.<br />

Key findings:<br />

• US$247bn (£190bn) in premium income<br />

• US$2tn (£1.5tn) in total assets<br />

• Over 226,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le employed by<br />

member organisations<br />

• 356 million members/policyholders<br />

served<br />

• 70.3% of ICMIF members exceeded their<br />

local market’s annual growth<br />

In 2020, ICMIF members wrote an<br />

aggregate of US$247bn in insurance<br />

premiums, of which 45% – US$112bn<br />

(£86bn) was in life insurance and 55%<br />

– US$35bn (£27bn) was in non-life<br />

(including health) insurance.<br />

ICMIF members, as a collective, saw<br />

their held assets surpass U$2tn for the<br />

first time in the Federation’s history.<br />

CEO Shaun Tarbuck said: “The findings<br />

of the new ICMIF Members: Key Statistics<br />

report are hugely encouraging and we<br />

can clearly see that the mutual and co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

insurance sector is continuing<br />

to grow, with 70.3% of ICMIF members<br />

outperforming their local markets. The 200<br />

member companies of ICMIF have recorded<br />

US$247bn in premium income and they<br />

serve 356 million member/policyholders.<br />

“In <strong>2022</strong>, ICMIF is celebrating its<br />

centenary year and to do so knowing that<br />

our members’ held assets have surpassed<br />

US$2tn for the first time in our 100-year<br />

history is an additional reason for us to<br />

celebrate.”<br />

Also included in ICMIF Members:<br />

Key Statistics <strong>2022</strong> is analysis of ICMIF<br />

members based on legal structure,<br />

location, and affinity group, as well as a<br />

list of ICMIF’s 50 largest members today.<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 17

EUROPE<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s demand<br />

more action on food<br />

sustainability<br />

Euro <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>, the voice of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

retailers in Eur<strong>op</strong>e, has called the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission (EC) to continue<br />

implementing its Farm to Fork strategy to<br />

drive sustainability in the food sector.<br />

In a recent article, the apex argued that<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives can offer higher guarantees<br />

of worker rights, shared benefits, equality<br />

and holistic sustainability “because the<br />

core business <strong>op</strong>erations are based on<br />

principles and led by values, thereby<br />

maximising benefits for the individual<br />

consumer-members (who are the owners<br />

of the business) and their communities,<br />

while being economically viable”.<br />

Urging the EC to step up its Farm to<br />

Fork strategy during the current crisis by<br />

increasing its sustainability ambitions, it<br />

said consumer co-<strong>op</strong>s have led the way<br />

in sustainable practices and have been<br />

“steps ahead of the strict legislation<br />

requirements on food safety and<br />

sustainability”.<br />

“Being owned by consumers, co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

have a direct and strong interest in<br />

ensuring food safety and sustainability,”<br />

the article says. “This is why Euro<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> strongly supports the call for the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission to keep on track and ensure<br />

the EU food production resilience by<br />

raising sustainability ambitions even<br />

further in a crisis period which exposes<br />

our Bloc’s vulnerabilities.”<br />

Euro <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> expressed concerns over<br />

the EC’s delay in updating the law on the<br />

sustainable use of pesticides and nature<br />

restoration, which is part of Farm to Fork.<br />

The EC blamed the delay on the Ukraine<br />

crisis, which has affected cereal cr<strong>op</strong>s –<br />

especially wheat – in Russia and Ukraine,<br />

which is an important global producer.<br />

The apex also warned of the<br />

consequences of unsustainable food<br />

production, such as climate emissions,<br />

water depletion, soil degradation, water<br />

and air pollution and habitat loss.<br />

Cheaper goods produced in this way<br />

mean sustainable farmers face unfair<br />

competition, says Euro <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>, which wants a<br />

number of measures implemented to<br />

ensure a level playing field for EU farmers –<br />

such as a border adjustment tax for<br />

imported products.<br />

Another concern is the impact on staple<br />

grains of financial speculation at the<br />

Seeds Stock Exchange.<br />

Full article at bit.ly/3rMZKZ2<br />

FRANCE<br />

French co-<strong>op</strong>s represent 25% of the global turnover of t<strong>op</strong> 100 co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

New research which compares French<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to those in Eur<strong>op</strong>e and other<br />

countries puts them ahead of those in<br />

Germany, Japan and the US.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nducted by economist Olivier Frey for<br />

apex <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> FR, the paper looks at the 2014<br />

Global Census on <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives published<br />

by United Nation’s Secretariat Department<br />

of Economic and Social Affairs, which<br />

measured the size and sc<strong>op</strong>e of the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

economy in the world.<br />

The World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Monitor also<br />

provides an analysis of the economic<br />

(turnover, sectors of activity) and social<br />

(employment) weight of the 100 largest co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

at the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean and global level.<br />

Mr Frey’s research found that French<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s represent 25% of the global<br />

turnover of the t<strong>op</strong> 100 worldwide, with<br />

US$344.75bn, ahead of Germany (15.9%),<br />

Japan (11%) and the USA (10.1%).<br />

Meanwhile at Eur<strong>op</strong>ean level, French<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s represent with 36.6% of the t<strong>op</strong> 100<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s by turnover. The study also found<br />

that in 2019, out of 100 largest co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

enterprises in Eur<strong>op</strong>e, 23 were French, 14<br />

were German and 12 were Dutch.<br />

The world’s 100 largest co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

p Groupe Crédit Agricole, one of France’s co-<strong>op</strong> giants (Photo: iStock)<br />

employ almost three million pe<strong>op</strong>le, 2.5<br />

million of which are in Eur<strong>op</strong>e. France<br />

is the second nation in the world t<strong>op</strong><br />

100 in terms of employment with 613,351<br />

employees in 13 co-<strong>op</strong>erative enterprises.<br />

Germany comes first with 857,964<br />

employees and Switzerland is third with<br />

223,522 employees.<br />

The research points out that French co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

have been covered by the same<br />

law for over 75 years. Their <strong>op</strong>erations<br />

are regularly audited, through what is<br />

known as the “révision co<strong>op</strong>érative”<br />

– a co-<strong>op</strong>erative audit. At global level<br />

the most represented sectors of activity<br />

among the 100 largest co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

are agriculture and agri-food, trade and<br />

banking; but in France trading co-<strong>op</strong>s are<br />

the most important in terms of turnover.<br />

The country’s agricultural and agri-food<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and co-<strong>op</strong>erative banks also<br />

have a significant weight.<br />

The report also points out that new<br />

sectors are emerging, and some of these –<br />

such as renewable energy, health, healthy<br />

food and platform co-<strong>op</strong>s – might enter<br />

the t<strong>op</strong> 100 in the future.<br />

Other co-<strong>op</strong>erative networks aim to<br />

radically transform the economy, such as<br />

Licoornes in France.<br />

18 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

p US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, and the Federation’s Dania Davy and <strong>Co</strong>rnelius Blanding<br />

USA<br />

Black farmer co-<strong>op</strong>s will get voice in court over debt relief row<br />

The Federation of Southern <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

been granted a motion to intervene in a<br />

lawsuit which is blocking a US federal<br />

debt relief programme for black farmers.<br />

In 2020, the US Department of<br />

Agriculture (USDA) granted US$4bn in<br />

debt relief payments to black farmers, in<br />

a bid to reverse long-standing economic<br />

injustices, but this has been blocked by<br />

lawsuits on behalf of white farmers who<br />

claim the measure is discriminatory.<br />

One of the lawsuits has been brought in<br />

Texas by Stephen Miller, a former Trump<br />

advisor, against agriculture secretary Tom<br />

Vilsack – and in response, the Federation<br />

has been fighting to make sure the black<br />

farmers are heard directly in court.<br />

After its motion to intervene was denied<br />

by the lower court, the Federation went<br />

last month to the United States <strong>Co</strong>urt of<br />

Appeals for the Fifth Circuit – which has<br />

now unanimously granted its motion.<br />

The case, Miller v Vilsack, will be sent<br />

back to the District <strong>Co</strong>urt for the Northern<br />

District of Texas to allow the Federation<br />

to formally enter the litigation as codefendants<br />

with the USDA.<br />

Federation executive director <strong>Co</strong>rnelius<br />

Blanding said: “The USA’s administration,<br />

under secretary Vilsack’s leadership, has<br />

consistently expressed a commitment<br />

to racial equity. Working together as codefendants<br />

of the constitutionality of the<br />

debt relief programme will strengthen our<br />

shared goal of seeing the programme fully<br />

implemented as originally announced.”<br />

“This is a critical decision,” said Dania<br />

Davy, director of land retention and<br />

advocacy at the Federation. “For the first<br />

time since these lawsuits … started to be<br />

filed, this appellate court was the first to<br />

seriously consider the devastating impact<br />

of the delayed implementation of the debt<br />

relief program on our member-farmers.<br />

“By guaranteeing the Federation’s right<br />

to intervene, the court ensured that the<br />

ongoing, race-based discrimination our<br />

member-farmers continue to face can be<br />

entered as evidence in the litigation which<br />

will significantly strengthen the defence<br />

of this programme’s constitutionality.”<br />

The Department of Justice, on behalf<br />

of Mr Vilsack, has continued its defence<br />

of the debt relief programme and filed its<br />

motion for summary judgement asking<br />

the judge to allow the programme to be<br />

implemented without a lengthy trial.<br />

The Federation says it will continue to<br />

work with the USDA, its own legal counsel,<br />

partners, and coalitions to protect its<br />

member-farmers – “who should have<br />

received this debt relief last year” – from<br />

the “looming threat of foreclosure and<br />

land loss”.<br />

Other recent advocacy work reported<br />

by the Federation includes assistance<br />

with the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of a co-<strong>op</strong> of more<br />

than 400 oyster fishers “as they fight<br />

against racial and economic injustice”.<br />

The Federation attended a demonstration<br />

at the Austin HQ of the Texas Parks and<br />

Wildlife Department (TPWD), which<br />

had been closing fishing bays “without<br />

consideration or input from the mostly<br />

Hispanic community of fisher-folk,<br />

by using tactics such as not providing<br />

materials in Spanish” – in violation of civil<br />

rights law.<br />

“The fisher-folk are fighting for the<br />

long-term sustainability of oysters while<br />

protecting their right to earn a living,” says<br />

the Federation, which cited local concerns<br />

that working class white and Latino<br />

fishermen and women are being driven<br />

from the bays by moneyed interests.<br />

It adds: “There are no easy solutions to<br />

this problem, but it has united fishermen<br />

across racial lines and along the coast …<br />

The two days of protest have provided<br />

an important lesson to the fishermen –<br />

standing co-<strong>op</strong>eratively together makes<br />

them stronger. They’re realising their<br />

collective futures are tied and if they co<strong>op</strong>erate,<br />

they can win.”<br />

Last month, the Federation also held<br />

a listening session with 15 black Georgia<br />

farmer-members as part of its Advocacy<br />

Institute to hear directly from them<br />

on what it will take to keep them on<br />

their farms.<br />

The Federation holds its 55th annual<br />

meeting from 18-20 August.<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 19

EUROPE<br />

Woccu chief visits Eur<strong>op</strong>e to meet<br />

Ukrainian and Polish credit union leaders<br />

The head of the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit<br />

Unions (Woccu) is meeting Ukrainian<br />

and Polish credit union leaders in Poland<br />

to discuss the challenges they face after<br />

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.<br />

Elissa McCarter LaBorde, president<br />

and CEO of the global apex, will also visit<br />

leaders of Credit for Agriculture Producers<br />

(CAP) a USAID-funded Woccu project set<br />

up to strengthen Ukraine’s credit unions<br />

and expand access to agri lending.<br />

She is also meeting representatives of<br />

Kasa Stefczyka, the largest credit union<br />

in Poland, which has begun enrolling<br />

Ukrainian refugees as members, and<br />

Rafal Matusiak, chair of the National<br />

Association of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Savings<br />

and Credit Unions (NACSCU), which<br />

is Woccu’s direct member credit union<br />

association in Poland.<br />

“Woccu recognises the credit unions we<br />

work with in Ukraine are facing mounting<br />

challenges caused by the Russian<br />

invasion” said Ms McCarter LaBorde. “We<br />

want to know how we can help today and<br />

in the coming months and years. We also<br />

want to make sure that any solutions we<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> are done in coordination with<br />

our member credit union associations<br />

in neighbouring countries like Poland,<br />

which are already doing so much to help.”<br />

Woccu’s charitable arm, the Worldwide<br />

Foundation for Credit Unions (WFCU),<br />

along with USAID, has recently released<br />

the second and final payment from a<br />

US$1m liquidity fund to help credit unions<br />

working on the CAP scheme to resume<br />

agricultural lending and support food<br />

security in Ukraine. The first payment, of<br />

nearly $500,000, was released in April.<br />

The second part, also totalling almost<br />

$500,000, has gone to the Ukrainian<br />

United Credit Union (UUCU) and United<br />

Credit Union of UNASCU (UCU of<br />

UNASCU), the central financing facilities<br />

for Ukrainian credit unions.<br />

This funding is a response to the<br />

demand for loans from agricultural<br />

producers in areas of western Ukraine<br />

less affected by the war. It is also h<strong>op</strong>ed<br />

the measure will tackle food insecurity –<br />

not just in Ukraine but around the world,<br />

given the country’s important role as a<br />

exporter of food and inputs.<br />

Within a week of the Russian invasion,<br />

WFCU launched the Ukrainian Credit<br />

Union Displacement Fund, which has<br />

raised more than $1m.<br />

“We continue to be overwhelmed by the<br />

incredible generosity of our global credit<br />

union movement” said Mike Reuter,<br />

executive director of WCFU. “While it is<br />

not surprising, because we know how our<br />

international community comes together<br />

in times like these, it is humbling and<br />

overwhelming to see so much support<br />

come in such a short period of time.”<br />

The money raised will be used to<br />

support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine<br />

and neighbouring countries.<br />

Donations can be made at bit.<br />

ly/3xBQqLf<br />

RETAIL<br />

New climate change initiatives from Eur<strong>op</strong>ean retail co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

Two new green initiatives have been<br />

announced by retail co-<strong>op</strong>s in Eur<strong>op</strong>e,<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Sweden and <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark.<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Sweden says it is working to make<br />

its new fully automated goods terminal<br />

in Eskilstuna as sustainable as possible.<br />

“Our electric <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> train will arrive at the<br />

terminal with goods several times a day<br />

and with our own photovoltaic system, we<br />

will largely be able to run the trains and<br />

terminal with electricity from the sun,”<br />

said Örjan Grandin, CEO of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Logistik.<br />

The solar cell plant will comprise<br />

approximately 14,400 solar panels on<br />

an area corresponding to 38,000 sq m –<br />

making it Sweden’s second largest roofbuilt<br />

photovoltaic plant.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nstruction work on the new goods<br />

terminal started in 2020 and it is expected<br />

to be fully <strong>op</strong>erational in 2024.<br />

Meanwhile <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark has released<br />

a new set of climate-related requirements<br />

for all its major food suppliers, committing<br />

p The new terminal with its rooft<strong>op</strong> PV and solar-powered train (Photo: Krook & Tjäder /<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Sverige AB)<br />

them to ambitious targets for the groceries<br />

they deliver to its stores.<br />

It will primarily apply to the more than<br />

50 suppliers who deliver goods worth<br />

approximately DKK 100 million (€13.4<br />

million) per year and more.<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark says it is the first food<br />

retailer in the country to have its climate<br />

action plan approved by the International<br />

Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI),<br />

which is in line with the Paris Agreement.<br />

Its largest suppliers will now need to<br />

adapt to the requirements of SBTi by 2025.<br />

The move is “a historic commitment”,<br />

said <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Denmark executive vice<br />

president Per Thau. “We want to send<br />

a signal in the market that in future [a<br />

reduction in climate impact] will be a<br />

prerequisite for the major producers to<br />

deliver food to us.”<br />

20 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

PERU<br />

Credit unions push<br />

for financial inclusion<br />

An alliance of Peruvian credit unions<br />

has launched a project to strengthen<br />

financial inclusion across the country’s<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative sector.<br />

The Strengthening Route initiative is<br />

being led by the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit<br />

Unions (Woccu) through its Economic<br />

Inclusion Project (EIP), alongside the<br />

National Federation of Credit Unions of<br />

Peru (FENACREP). The aim is to enhance<br />

the credit union sector and increase<br />

financial inclusion across the country.<br />

EIP is a USAID-funded project set up to<br />

support Venezuelan migrants and their<br />

host communities in Peru and Ecuador.<br />

Launched in 2020, it aims to give 100,000<br />

individuals access to new financial<br />

services over a three-year period.<br />

Eight of the EIP’s partner organisations<br />

gathered in Lima on 8 April to launch<br />

the Strengthening Route and discuss<br />

the challenges, <strong>op</strong>portunities and needs<br />

facing the country’s co-<strong>op</strong>s. Two key<br />

issues were identified during the talks<br />

– the first a need for the country’s credit<br />

union sector to become more competitive<br />

and modernised, and the difficulties<br />

vulnerable p<strong>op</strong>ulations face in accessing<br />

the formal financial sector.<br />

Manuel Rabines, general manager<br />

of FENACREP, said: “The needs for<br />

reorganising and transforming credit<br />

unions are becoming more evident<br />

to adapt to the new conditions of the<br />

financial environment and economic<br />

competition.”<br />

Oscar Guzman, EIP’s director, stressed<br />

that financial services “are the basis for<br />

the sustainability of entrepreneurship and<br />

employability programs aimed at migrant<br />

and local p<strong>op</strong>ulations”.<br />

It is h<strong>op</strong>ed the Strengthening Route<br />

will help credit unions respond to these<br />

challenges by offering more agile, digital<br />

services to members, expanding business<br />

strategies into suitable markets and hiring<br />

more skilled employees to boost growth.<br />

FBI puts agri co-<strong>op</strong> sector on high cybercrime alert<br />

Ana Aguirre elected ICA Youth <strong>Co</strong>mmittee president<br />

Pandemic sparks new generation of co-<strong>op</strong>s in Fiji<br />

African trade expert takes helm of Fairtrade International<br />

Call goes out for credit union researchers<br />

Cybercrime against farm co-<strong>op</strong>s is<br />

becoming more s<strong>op</strong>histicated, with a<br />

higher risk in the planting and harvest<br />

seasons, the FBI has warned. Attackers<br />

will use ransomware to disrupt <strong>op</strong>erations<br />

and food supply chains at crucial times<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong>s in the US and around the<br />

world are advised to maintain strict online<br />

security protocols<br />

The International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance’s<br />

Youth <strong>Co</strong>mmittee elected Ana Aguirre as<br />

president with a four-year mandate. Ms<br />

Aguirre is co-founder and worker-owner at<br />

TAZEBAEZ S.<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>, a Basque worker co-<strong>op</strong>,<br />

where she leads on co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

She currently serves as vice president for<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e in the ICA Youth <strong>Co</strong>mmittee.<br />

Fiji’s government received 80 applications<br />

to register co-<strong>op</strong>s at the height of the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid-19 crisis, which saw pe<strong>op</strong>le return<br />

to their villages after losing their jobs.<br />

The trade minister announced the figures<br />

at a marine conservation event, the<br />

Fiji Seascape Symposium, and said co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

were ideally suited to sustainable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment and were receiving<br />

government support.<br />

Fairtrade International has appointed<br />

Sandra Uwera as its global CEO. She has<br />

held several business roles in eastern and<br />

southern Africa, most recently serving as<br />

CEO of COMESA Business <strong>Co</strong>uncil (CBC),<br />

“I am delighted and honoured to lead<br />

Fairtrade as it builds on its leading role in<br />

confronting the greatest challenges of our<br />

time, from climate change and poverty to<br />

gender equality,” she said.<br />

The Swoboda Credit Union Research Prize<br />

<strong>2022</strong> is now <strong>op</strong>en for applications from<br />

researchers around the world who wish<br />

to contribute to the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of credit<br />

unions in the Republic of Ireland and / or<br />

the UK. Closing date is 6 <strong>May</strong>; all queries<br />

to Dr Paul A Jones, director of<br />

research: p.a.jones@ljmu.ac.uk<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 21

MEET<br />

Bahman Abdollahi<br />

President of the Iran Chamber<br />

of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (ICC)<br />

Mr Abdollahi has been involved in co-<strong>op</strong>eratives for 32 years. He<br />

was initially involved in housing co-<strong>op</strong>eratives as a director of a<br />

public sector body working with housing co-<strong>op</strong>s, and is now the<br />

president of the Iran Chamber of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives which represents<br />

all co-<strong>op</strong>s in the country. We interviewed him to find out more<br />

about the co-<strong>op</strong>erative sector in Iran. ICC is a member of the<br />

International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance.<br />



The status of the co-<strong>op</strong> sector as the second pillar<br />

of the economy is specified in the constitution of<br />

Iran. Also, the co-<strong>op</strong> movement has a separate<br />

and independent legal identity. Iran’s co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

sector, with 95,000 active co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, 11 million<br />

individual members and about 1.8 million workers,<br />

accounts for about 7-8 % of the GDP.<br />



ICC was established in 1994. As the apex<br />

organisation of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, it is responsible for<br />

representing, serving, promoting and devel<strong>op</strong>ing the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative sector in Iran; as a member of national<br />

and international supreme decision-making and<br />

consulting councils, it plays an important role<br />

in protecting and promoting the rights of the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators.<br />

For example, it has been an active member of<br />

the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance (ICA) since<br />

2000. Also, as a member of the board of ICA Asia<br />

and Pacific (ICA-AP) since 2016, ICC has a much<br />

closer relationship with the global and regional<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement and implemented various<br />

events to empower and strengthen the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement of Iran, of which the most prominent<br />

case was the hosting and holding of 13th ICA-AP<br />

Regional Assembly in 2018.<br />

Other promotional activities include holding<br />

events such as celebrating the International Day of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives; thematic conferences in the field of<br />

entrepreneurship and women; training courses to<br />

transfer international experiences as well as holding<br />

B2B meetings for business empowerment.<br />

At national level, ICC has 14 specialised<br />

committees which play the role of the think tank<br />

of the Iranian co-<strong>op</strong>erative sector in supporting<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in various economic fields. For<br />

example, we have the women and knowledgebased<br />

committees, which strengthen the role of<br />

women and support the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of platform<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. In addition, ICC provides a variety<br />

of services to co-<strong>op</strong>s – such as specialised training,<br />

dispute resolution, exhibitions, and business<br />

consulting.<br />



Iranian co-<strong>op</strong>s are present in all areas and economic<br />

fields of activity. According to the official statistics<br />

(2020), the largest number of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in Iran<br />

belong to services, agriculture and industry. There<br />

are about 37,000 co-<strong>op</strong>s in the service sector, about<br />

28,000 co-<strong>op</strong>s in the agricultural sector and about<br />

18,000 co-<strong>op</strong>s in industry and mining. The rest<br />

work in areas such as housing and construction, as<br />

well as handicrafts and handmade carpets.<br />


Articles about co-<strong>op</strong>eratives were included in<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>mmercial <strong>Co</strong>de in 1924, but in terms of<br />

registration and actual activity, the year 1935,<br />

when the first rural co-<strong>op</strong>erative enterprise was<br />

established, can be considered as the beginning of<br />

the official activity of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in Iran.<br />


Many co-<strong>op</strong>s faced declining sales and revenue,<br />

reduced labour force presence, and reduced<br />

22 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

productivity, but they have responded well to this<br />

crisis, changing their production lines and sales<br />

methods as well as related services. They also tried<br />

to minimise the downsizing of their workforce by<br />

adhering to the co-<strong>op</strong>erative identity. They came<br />

out to support the community and through their<br />

actions, helped the needy sections of the society.<br />

Meanwhile, the role of women’s co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

has been very prominent along with other co<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />


First we need to address the general challenges<br />

facing the world and the global co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement – first and foremost, the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19<br />

pandemic. The global co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement must<br />

continue to adapt and deal with this crisis, as in the<br />

past, by promoting solidarity at the national and<br />

international levels.<br />

Another challenge is climate change. We in the<br />

global co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement need to adapt and<br />

take measures to curb its negative effects on co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

businesses and their members, especially<br />

agricultural co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

The third global challenge is the issue of job<br />

creation and decent work. This is an issue that<br />

I have repeatedly emphasised at various ICA<br />

events. In 2020, more than 219 million pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

were unemployed and 1.4 billion workers were in<br />

vulnerable employment – we are still along way<br />

frrom meeting UN Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goal<br />

No 8 on decent work.<br />

From my point of view, devel<strong>op</strong>ing the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

business model is the best <strong>op</strong>tion to overcome<br />

this challenge. On the one hand, it can provide a<br />

unique platform for the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of collective<br />

entrepreneurship and reducing the unemployment<br />

rate, and on the other, since it is based on ethical<br />

principles and values, job creation through co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

brings the international community<br />

closer to SDG8. Furthermore, in the face of<br />

crises and technological changes, co-<strong>op</strong>s have<br />

the capacity to quickly and easily adapt to new<br />

environmental changes as well as maintaining<br />

decent work in communities by adhering to their<br />

principles.<br />

The global co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement, including<br />

the Iranian co-<strong>op</strong>erative sector, also faces specific<br />

challenges: the ageing of co-<strong>op</strong>erators, poor<br />

enforcement and oversight of co-<strong>op</strong>erative law,<br />

poor collection of macroeconomic statistics on<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, lack of networking among co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

nationally and internationally, poor<br />

promotion of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, weak competitiveness<br />

in the economy, and an inappr<strong>op</strong>riate business<br />

environment.<br />


The priority of the ICC is to try to overcome these<br />

challenges and strengthen and empower the co<strong>op</strong><br />

movement in Iran. Networking among co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

at national and international level; promoting and<br />

deepening the co-<strong>op</strong>erative identity in the country;<br />

strengthening the position of women in the co<strong>op</strong><br />

sector; promoting youth and professionalism;<br />

strengthening the co-<strong>op</strong> brand and promoting<br />

and strengthening environmental protection<br />

approaches, are all among the strategic priorities<br />

of ICC.<br />

Regarding the presence of youth, in addition to<br />

holding promotional events in the co-<strong>op</strong> sector,<br />

we at ICC have taken the initiative, and in recent<br />

years we have employed professional youth, so that<br />

now, 70% of ICC’s managers and experts are in the<br />

average age group of 35 years.<br />

In addition to establishing a special committee<br />

for women, with the co-<strong>op</strong>eration of South Africa,<br />

South Korea and Japan, we have organised several<br />

promotional events for the empowerment of<br />

women’s co-<strong>op</strong>s in our country.<br />

On the subject of branding, we have focused on<br />

consumer co-<strong>op</strong>s, in the form of capacity building<br />

projects, trying to transfer successful experiences<br />

from countries such as Japan.<br />

Around the environment issue, while<br />

accompanying the campaigns of the ICA and<br />

holding a prominent International Day of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives 2020 with the theme <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

for Climate Action, we always strive to promote<br />

the environment in the Iranian co-<strong>op</strong> movement.<br />

Fortunately, Iranian co-<strong>op</strong>s welcome this issue. For<br />

example, we can refer to Pishgaman <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Union (PCU), also a member of the ICA. This co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

has been able to produce paper from<br />

stone with a knowledge-based and environmentfriendly<br />

approach, helping preserve trees and<br />

the environment. This is just one example of the<br />

actions of the Iranian co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to protect the<br />

environment.<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 23


Right to save with a credit union will help defuse the pensions time bomb<br />

In the Queen’s Speech, the government<br />

should introduce a Right to Save. This<br />

would require all employers to offer their<br />

staff the right to save with a credit union<br />

by a regular deduction from their pay. It<br />

should be compulsory for all employers –<br />

including online platforms such as Uber,<br />

and Deliveroo. One of the many reasons<br />

why the cost of living crisis is set to hit<br />

so many, so hard, is that many in our<br />

country – already very heavily financially<br />

stretched – have little or no savings.<br />

Inflation has soared to the highest it has<br />

been in 30 years and the government is<br />

forcing a huge increase in taxation on even<br />

the nation’s poorest workers, through the<br />

upcoming hike in National Insurance<br />

contributions. With unprecedented<br />

housing costs, routinely increasing travel<br />

costs and energy prices skyrocketing, the<br />

government needs not only to do much<br />

more to tackle the cost of living crisis, but<br />

also turn its attention to what else can be<br />

done to make it a little less difficult to put<br />

money aside for the proverbial rainy day.<br />

Indeed, a survey by the FCA in February<br />

2020 showed that 39% of adults (20.3<br />

million pe<strong>op</strong>le) said they could only cover<br />

their living expenses for less than three<br />

months, if they lost their main source of<br />

household income. These figures were<br />

echoed by a survey by consumer watchdog<br />

Which? and the Nationwide Building<br />

Society, who also reported that over<br />

12 million adults don’t have the savings to<br />

fall back on if times get tough.<br />

Requiring firms and companies to<br />

offer a payroll deduction service with a<br />

local credit union is one route to helping<br />

employees to save even a small amount<br />

regularly. Having even just a small<br />

amount saved makes it less likely those<br />

in financial difficulty would have to rely<br />

on high-cost loans such as an overdraft or<br />

credit card – or worse, a loan shark.<br />

Although not a new concept, payroll<br />

deduction is growing in prominence as<br />

a mechanism for workers to access loans<br />

and put aside savings. Credit unions<br />

around the world have been delivering<br />

such schemes with employers for decades<br />

and new research has made clear the<br />

effectiveness of payroll deduction at<br />

encouraging greater levels of savings.<br />

39% of adults said<br />

they could only<br />

continue to cover<br />

their living expenses<br />

for less than three<br />

months<br />

Research by the Money and Pension<br />

Service has tested the impact on<br />

household savings and financial resilience<br />

of a payroll deduction scheme <strong>op</strong>erated by<br />

Leeds Credit Union.<br />

The research was delivered with two<br />

large employers: Leeds City <strong>Co</strong>uncil,<br />

which has <strong>op</strong>erated its payroll scheme<br />

for over 33 years for its 14,500 employees,<br />

35% of whom are already members of the<br />

credit union) and York Teaching Hospital<br />

NHS Foundation Trust (NHS York, which<br />

has been running its payroll deduction<br />

scheme for three years for its 8,630<br />

employees, 1.5% of whom are members of<br />

the credit union). The research conducted<br />

3,000 surveys with workers from across<br />

both employers – together with in-depth<br />

interviews with staff. Among the key<br />

findings of the research is that payroll<br />

deduction is an effective mechanism for<br />

attracting non-savers and converting<br />

them into regular savers.<br />

The findings further suggest that payroll<br />

saving appears to help lower-income<br />

employees and importantly has a positive<br />

impact on mental health, with those<br />

contributing to a payroll saving scheme<br />

reporting being on such a scheme helped<br />

mitigate anxiety when thinking of their<br />

financial situation.<br />

The savings and pensions crisis in<br />

the UK is a ticking time bomb that<br />

threatens our future prosperity – and the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity of a decent later life for far<br />

too many in our country. The government<br />

must do more to tackle this crisis, which<br />

is being exacerbated by ever-growing cost<br />

of living pressures. One simple move with<br />

clear benefits, particularly for those with<br />

little or no savings and on low incomes, is<br />

to create a Right to Save.<br />

Gareth Thomas, Labour/<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> MP<br />

24 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

01<br />

01<br />

01<br />

01<br />

9<br />

0<br />


Steve Murrells steps down as <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group CEP<br />

I h<strong>op</strong>e the new CEO doesn’t need AGM<br />

questions butted away for him and relayed<br />

to him by some unelected chair...<br />

<strong>May</strong>be [interim CEO] Shirine [Khoury-<br />

Haq] can successfully state the executive<br />

has met the board’s need for confidence<br />

of return on investment from the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Live branding agreement.<br />

Have your say<br />

Add your comments to our stories<br />

online at thenews.co<strong>op</strong>, get in<br />

touch via social media, or send us<br />

a letter. If sending a letter, please<br />

include your address and contact<br />

number. Letters may be edited and<br />

no longer than 350 words.<br />

Nevertheless we wanted executive<br />

reward tied to three-year metrics, this guy<br />

served out a full horizon of what he agreed<br />

to be asked for in his employment so<br />

maybe it will be all right without him.<br />

Luke Blakey<br />

via Facebook<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong>, Holyoake<br />

House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

letters@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

@co<strong>op</strong>news<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong><br />

Steve did a good job and was a co<strong>op</strong>erator,<br />

I h<strong>op</strong>e his replacement really<br />

understands it’s a <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> SOCIETY and not<br />

a company that she will become CEO of.<br />

Giving up being a non exec of Persimmon<br />

the builders would be a good start.<br />

John Harrington<br />

via Facebook<br />

Wales <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Centre rebrand<br />

It’s an organisation that has become less<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> focused over its history and worry<br />

this could be another step away from the<br />

movement (feature, p42-43).<br />

Iwan Doherty<br />

via Facebook<br />

150 years of independent, co-<strong>op</strong>erative journalism<br />

150 years of independent, co-<strong>op</strong>erative journalism<br />

150 years of independent, co-<strong>op</strong>era 15<br />

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Full coverage of the ICA’s 33rd<br />

JANUARY <strong>2022</strong> World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

Plus … Launch of the 10th<br />

World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Monitor …<br />


Interview<br />

OUR<br />

with Rob Harrison,<br />

COOPERATIVE author of The IDENTITY’<br />

Handbook<br />

of Ethical Purchasing …<br />

Full coverage MPs of debate the debate ICA’s the 33rd<br />

contribution of co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative mutuals to the <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

UK<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

Plus … Launch of the 10th<br />

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Interview with Rob Harrison,<br />

author of The Handbook<br />

of Ethical Purchasing<br />

www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

…<br />

MPs debate debate the<br />

contribution of co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

mutuals to the UK<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

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Plus …<br />

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CO-OPS AND<br />



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news news Issue #7328 FEBRUARY 2021<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nnecting, <strong>Co</strong>nnecting, championing, championing, cha chalenging<br />

lenging<br />

OCTOBER 2021<br />

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news news Issue #7327 JANUARY 2021<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nnecting, <strong>Co</strong>nnecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

JANUARY <strong>2022</strong><br />

Full coverage of the ICA’s 33rd<br />

World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

Plus … Launch of the 10th<br />

World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Monitor …<br />

Interview with Rob Harrison,<br />

author of The Handbook<br />

of Ethical Purchasing …<br />

MPs debate debate the<br />

contribution of co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

mutuals to the UK<br />

Plus … Lessons co-<strong>op</strong><br />

organising from Cincinnati …<br />

A co-<strong>op</strong>erative future DECEMBER for the 2021<br />

waterways? … How Blair Ki led<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s: a review … and<br />

Part 2 of our <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Christmas<br />

Gift Guide PEER LEARNING<br />

The strength of co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

learning together<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong> Plus … Lessons co-<strong>op</strong><br />

organising from Cincinnati …<br />

A co-<strong>op</strong>erative future for the<br />

waterways? … How Blair Killed<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s: a review … and<br />

Part 2 of our <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Christmas<br />

Gift Guide<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

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www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />



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DECEMBER 2021<br />


The strength of co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

learning together<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 7 7 0 0 0 9 9 8 2 0 1 0<br />

www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

Issue #7333<br />

affect co-<strong>op</strong> businesses ...<br />

Latest statistics from the<br />

World <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Monitor... The<br />

Hive begins another round of<br />

funding and support<br />

news news Issue #7334 AUGUST 2021<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nnecting, <strong>Co</strong>nnecting, championing, championing, cha chalenginglenging<br />

JULY 2021<br />

CONGR<br />

CO-O<br />

RE<br />

news news<br />

01<br />

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JANUARY 2021<br />

WHY AREN’T<br />


JANUARY 2021<br />

CO-OPS?<br />

WHY AREN’T<br />

THERE MORE Plus … New international<br />

CO-OPS? working group for UK co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

... Kay Johnson’s work on food<br />

fairness in Preston ... New York<br />

Plus … New international<br />

working group for taxi UK drivers co-<strong>op</strong>s launch fundraiser<br />

... Kay Johnson’s for work platform on food co-<strong>op</strong><br />

fairness in Preston ... New York<br />

taxi drivers launch fundraiser<br />

for platform co-<strong>op</strong> ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

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Plus … How Brexit will<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

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news news Issue #7332 JUNE 2021<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nnecting, <strong>Co</strong>nnecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

news news Issue #7332 JUNE 2021<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nnecting, <strong>Co</strong>nnecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

FEBRUARY 2021<br />

01<br />

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organising from Cincinnati …<br />

A co-<strong>op</strong>erative future for the<br />

waterways? … How Blair Killed<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s: a review … and<br />

Part 2 of our <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Christmas<br />

Gift Guide<br />

Plus … Lessons in co-<strong>op</strong><br />

DECEMBER 2021<br />


The strength of co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

learning together<br />

Plus … The co-<strong>op</strong>s tackling<br />

global deforestation ... Mark<br />

Drakeford Robert Owen at<br />

250 ... A new chaper for the<br />

New Internationalist ... Retail<br />

results round-up<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

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ISSN 0009-9821<br />

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groups, past, present<br />

and future ... the schools<br />

teaching co-<strong>op</strong>eration by<br />

doing ... the 16-year-old on<br />

a mission to make co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

fairer for young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

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Plus … The co-<strong>op</strong>s tackling<br />

global deforestation ... Mark<br />

Drakeford Robert Owen at<br />

250 ... A new chaper for the<br />

New Internationalist ... Retail<br />

results round-up<br />

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TO A NEW<br />


Plus … <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Youth<br />

JUNE 2021<br />




news news Issue #7330 APRIL 2021<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nnecting, <strong>Co</strong>nnecting, championing, championing, cha cha lenging lenging<br />

Issue #7333<br />

MAY 2021 <strong>Co</strong>nnecting, championing, cha lenging<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nnecting, championing, cha lenging<br />

AUGUST 2021<br />

news news<br />

JULY<br />

MAY 2021<br />

HOW CO-OP<br />



Plus … Credit unions<br />

consider the merger question<br />

... A globa look at youth<br />

empowerment ... Robert Owen:<br />

anniversary of a co-<strong>op</strong> icon ...<br />

Nigel Todd: A tribute<br />

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CO-OP MODEL?<br />

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retai landscape? ... The<br />

humanisation of healthcare<br />

... 90 years of the Rochdale<br />

Pioneers Museum<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

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MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 25<br />

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Scottish farm co-<strong>op</strong>s take<br />

a sustainable future to market<br />

Miles Hadfield<br />

Sustainability and net zero were on the agenda<br />

at the annual conference of the Scottish<br />

Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS), held<br />

in Dunblane last month.<br />

The event kicked off with a presentation from<br />

Mark Brooking, sustainability director at dairy<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> First Milk, which has 700 members across<br />

England, Scotland and Wales.<br />

Producing 850 million litres of milk a year, the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> is continuing to grow, with milk volumes<br />

up 25%, turnover up more than 50%, and net<br />

assets almost doubling to more than £40m.<br />

But Mr Brooking claimed that <strong>op</strong>ponents of<br />

the dairy industry are using climate change as a<br />

stick to beat it with. “There are individuals and<br />

organisations which would like to see no dairy<br />

produced in the UK at all,” he said.<br />

To counter this, he said, the dairy industry<br />

needs to be proactive. “If there are practices<br />

we cannot defend, we need to change those<br />

practices. Every time there is a negative story in<br />

the press someone will st<strong>op</strong> using dairy.”<br />

In any case, dairy farmers need to act on<br />

climate change, he said. “Make no bones about<br />

it, we have a climate emergency”.<br />

But sustainability also offers <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

because consumers “are interested in where<br />

their food is coming from”. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> farmers have a<br />

story to tell on this, as “traditional family farms<br />

that care about pe<strong>op</strong>le, animals, the Earth”.<br />

Net zero is the biggest issue, with 95% of dairy<br />

industry emissions coming from farms, and First<br />

Milk has set members a series of targets. “It’s a<br />

big challenge,” said Mr Brooking, “and farming<br />

will be different in the future.”<br />

To reach net zero by 2040, farmers must<br />

sequester 100,000 tonnes of CO2 in the soil,<br />

each year, by 2025; and increase milk produced<br />

from forage by 10% by 2025. All transport and<br />

processing must be renewable-powered by 2030.<br />

To drive this, Mr Brooking advocates<br />

regenerative agriculture, a holistic model which<br />

uses animals in the field to help sequester<br />

carbon, and protects the soil, plant diversity and<br />

living roots. Farm data and digital mapping are<br />

crucial tools for this, allowing farmers to measure<br />

carbon levels in the soil and demonstrate “how<br />

we’re helping the planet”.<br />

First Milk now has the biggest soil data set<br />

in the UK, he added; it is also mapping hedges,<br />

watercourses, grazing, cultivation, and the use<br />

of electricity, feed and fertiliser.<br />

“We’re collaborating for success through the<br />

whole supply chain,” he said, with a positive<br />

response from First Milk farmer members: more<br />

than 90% have signed up.<br />

In a separate discussion on data, George<br />

Noble, data and connectivity manager at SAOS,<br />

said the organisation is devel<strong>op</strong>ing systems such<br />

as CarbonPositive and Smart Rural, gathering<br />

u SAOS chief<br />

executive Tim Bailey<br />

<strong>op</strong>ens the conference<br />

26 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

information from ground sensors, weather<br />

stations, energy monitors and cattle GPS; and<br />

biodiversity monitors are being devel<strong>op</strong>ed, that<br />

can listen to birdsong or detect types of pollen.<br />

The key lesson, he said, is “keep it simple.<br />

Data is there to tell us how time is best spent and<br />

how we can make improvements.”<br />

This is farmer-owned data which can help<br />

in many ways, from improving the picture of<br />

calf mortality to reducing the cost of regulatory<br />

compliance. SAOS can help, he said, by “getting<br />

the right pe<strong>op</strong>le round the table, helping pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

plan around data governance and use, and<br />

giving farmers a say in the creation of value from<br />

the data they supply”.<br />

John Hutcheson, chair of SAOS and director<br />

of Grain<strong>Co</strong> oat producer group, also discussed<br />

the way farmers are collaborating to drive<br />

sustainability at scale. This is increasingly<br />

market-driven, he said, noting that Quaker – one<br />

of Grain<strong>Co</strong>’s main customers – has asked for<br />

auditable sustainable production so it can show<br />

food provenance on its packaging.<br />

Sustainable grain production can be a<br />

challenge in Scotland, with wet weather harvests<br />

meaning more energy is needed to dry the cr<strong>op</strong>.<br />

But Matt Waldie, one of Grain<strong>Co</strong>’s farmers, is<br />

leading the way in finding solutions, chairing a<br />

group of farmers – 4 Front Farming – who share<br />

equipment to drive savings and collaborate on<br />

eco-friendly farming techniques, such as using<br />

cover cr<strong>op</strong>s like clover which feed the soil, create<br />

organic matter, reduce fertiliser inputs, protect<br />

soil over winter and feed wildlife.<br />

Farmers are also reaching out to the public to<br />

drive better understanding of the land. Graham<br />

Barr, chair of Pentlands Land Management<br />

Association, discussed problems in Pentland<br />

Hills Regional Park – which comprises 9,000ha<br />

of land on the urban fringe of Edinburgh.<br />

The park has 600,000 leisure visitors a year,<br />

but funding cuts mean there are only three<br />

rangers, with no visitor education. As a result,<br />

rubbish is left, fires are lit, trees are ch<strong>op</strong>ped,<br />

gates are left <strong>op</strong>en letting livestock loose, and<br />

livestock is attacked by dogs.<br />

This is harming farmers’ mental health, said<br />

Mr Parr. To help manage the situation better,<br />

SAOS has been facilitating discussion between<br />

landowners, councils, the emergency services<br />

and politicians, and providing a collective voice<br />

to drive visitor engagement and education.<br />

Later the conference looked at how farm co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

can communicate their values to gain market<br />

advantage. Amanda Brown, project director for<br />

the SF&D Partnership’s Knowledge Bank, said<br />

Kantar research shows a third of sh<strong>op</strong>pers are<br />

The key lesson is “keep it simple. Data is<br />

there to tell us how time is best spent and<br />

how we can make improvements”<br />

– George Noble, data and connectivity manager at SAOS<br />

actively interested in sustainability: a spend<br />

worth £36bn in the UK, and £3.3bn in Scotland.<br />

One problem is that price and convenience<br />

form barriers to sh<strong>op</strong>pers looking to do the<br />

right thing – a problem set to worsen with<br />

the cost of living crisis. Still, there is sc<strong>op</strong>e to<br />

“commercialise what we are doing right back<br />

through the supply chain”, she said.<br />

Marketing expert Anna Davies, from rural PR<br />

specialists Scene and Herd, said collaboration<br />

through industry-wide marketing initiatives,<br />

such as Food and Drink Scotland, is important.<br />

“We all want farming to be seen in a positive<br />

light,” she said. “We all stand to benefit from<br />

consumers understanding what we do.”<br />

She said farmers should use all channels to<br />

promote what they do and tell positive stories<br />

– social media, print, podcasts, and broadcast.<br />

And it is important to share and spread content<br />

– whether it is a tweeted photo or a short Tik-Tok<br />

film – to ensure the message does not get stuck<br />

in a social media bubble.<br />

“A little bit more action on everyone’s part<br />

will do a lot,” she said. “We need to support<br />

each other – if we see something on Facebook<br />

that another farmer has posted it’s a good idea<br />

to support it. <strong>Co</strong>nsumers want information on<br />

production methods, conservation, animal<br />

welfare. We need to tell them these stories.”<br />

p 4 Front Farming<br />

is finding new ways<br />

to collaborate in<br />

agriculture<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 27

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the planet & your pocket.<br />

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Introducing The Big Exchange ISA. Built to have a positive impact on pe<strong>op</strong>le and<br />

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28 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

<strong>Co</strong>mmon identity, common language?<br />

Rebecca Harvey<br />

The number of co-<strong>op</strong>s around the world stands<br />

at around 3 million different organisations<br />

– but many of these businesses may not selfidentify<br />

as co-<strong>op</strong>s, or promote themselves as<br />

such. As discussed previously in <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong>,<br />

sometimes this is because they don’t want or<br />

need to associate with a formal declaration of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration, and sometimes because they may<br />

not realise they are a co-<strong>op</strong> in the first place.<br />

The question of co-<strong>op</strong> identity, mutuality<br />

and how this is demonstrated and promoted<br />

by organisations – is still one that is fiercely<br />

debated, and in this issue, we look at two<br />

organisations (Yorkshire Cricket Club and the<br />

Building Societies Association) and their they<br />

approaches to this.<br />

It’s also a question that the International<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance continues to explore. It<br />

has recently launched a survey to find out how<br />

familiar respondents are with the Statement of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Identity, the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Principles<br />

and the Guidance Notes to the principles,<br />

and asks for ratings and remarks on a number<br />

of statements around the effectiveness and<br />

relevance of these documents.<br />

“With the 33rd World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress,<br />

held in December 2021 in Seoul, Korea, the<br />

ICA launched an extensive reflection and<br />

consultation intended to deepen our co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

identity and to explore how well<br />

the Statement has stood the test of time,” says<br />

Alexandra Wilson, chair of the ICA <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Identity Advisory Group.<br />

“[The consultation] will address such<br />

questions as: Is the co-<strong>op</strong>erative identity<br />

adequately defined? Is it widely understood?<br />

Are co-<strong>op</strong>eratives <strong>op</strong>erating in a manner<br />

consistent with it? If not, why not? Is a fresh<br />

interpretation of the Principles needed in light<br />

of contemporary challenges and <strong>op</strong>portunities?<br />

Are any changes to the formal expression of our<br />

identity required? Can other tools be devel<strong>op</strong>ed<br />

to enhance co-<strong>op</strong>eratives’ understanding of the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative identity and stimulate action on<br />

their part consistent with it?”<br />

One tool used by organisations globally is the<br />

International Day of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives (IDC), which<br />

takes place annually on the first Saturday<br />

Our co-<strong>op</strong>erative identity is never more<br />

important than in times of crisis, such<br />

as today”<br />

– Alexandra Wilson, chair, ICA Identity Advisory Group<br />

of July – but although this is strong day of<br />

communication and action, it is just one day,<br />

and there is little other co-ordinated action.<br />

In the UK, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives Fortnight takes<br />

place in the two weeks leading up to the IDC,<br />

and although efforts are being made to devel<strong>op</strong><br />

shared language to promote co-<strong>op</strong>erative ideas<br />

during this time, the diversity of co-<strong>op</strong>eratve<br />

sectors, organisational types and geography,<br />

even within a single country, makes this a very<br />

tricky process.<br />

Meanwhile other countries celebrate co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

at different points in the calendar. The USA,<br />

for example, celebrates <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Month<br />

each October. In India, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Week is in<br />

the middle of November and Nepal celebrates<br />

National <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Day every 2 April.<br />

But as Ms Wilson highlights, wherever you<br />

are in the world, “our co-<strong>op</strong> identity is never<br />

more important than in times of crisis, such<br />

as today. The participation of the global co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

community in this consultation to<br />

deepen our identity is vital.”<br />

u www.surveymonkey.com/r/RFFDFGJ<br />

p Alexandra Wilson,<br />

chair, ICA Identity<br />

Advisory Group<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 29

The co-<strong>op</strong>erative difference<br />

in Canada: how CMC promotes<br />

the sector<br />

Anca Voinea<br />

With a relatively small p<strong>op</strong>ulation – 38 million<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le – spread across the second largest<br />

country in the world, speaking two official<br />

languages alongside several indigenous ones,<br />

Canada poses some tough challenges when it<br />

comes to national messsaging.<br />

For the co-<strong>op</strong> movement, things are even<br />

trickier: of the country’s 7,500 co-<strong>op</strong>s, only 100<br />

are registered at federal level; most <strong>op</strong>erate at<br />

provincial level.<br />

Between 2010 and 2015, the Canadian <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Association – in partnership with four<br />

Canadian universities – conducted research<br />

on the social, economic and environmental<br />

impacts of co-<strong>op</strong>s on Canadians and their<br />

communities. The project was funded by the<br />

federal government and found that co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

enrich their communities, particularly in sectors<br />

like housing and renewable energy and created<br />

jobs at five times the rate of the overall economy.<br />

As the national apex representing all<br />

provincial co-<strong>op</strong>erative federations across the<br />

country, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and Mutuals Canada<br />

(CMC) works to raise awareness about co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

as well as bring the various co-<strong>op</strong> sectors in<br />

different regions together.<br />

Its initiatives to build a more cohesive<br />

movement include sending a newsletter, holding<br />

a national congress on a yearly basis, and<br />

organising various webinars.<br />

In April 2017 a private members’ bill<br />

recognising the importance of co-<strong>op</strong>s in Canada<br />

passed through the Canadian parliament. The<br />

ripple effect from that was the commissioning<br />

of a series of consultations by the federal<br />

government, which showed a need for more<br />

awareness about co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

The government paid for a one-on-one course<br />

on co-<strong>op</strong>s to be devel<strong>op</strong>ed and delivered to 500<br />

public servants involved in frontline economic<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment, says Daniel Brunette, director of<br />

advocacy and partnerships at CMC. He thinks that<br />

such initiatives are crucial to growing the sector.<br />

Awareness is also an issue when it comes to<br />

the transfer of enterprises.<br />

In 2019 CMC commissioned a national survey<br />

of 5,000 Canadians to explore public attitudes<br />

about the economic system, broader public<br />

concerns, and what role co-<strong>op</strong>eratives could play<br />

in addressing those concerns. The study found<br />

that 30% of Canadians are members of a co-<strong>op</strong> –<br />

but only 10% say they are very familiar with the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative business model, with another 37%<br />

saying they are ‘pretty familiar’. Furthermore,<br />

three in four Canadians are unaware that the<br />

largest financial institution in Quebec, the<br />

Desjardins Group, is a co-<strong>op</strong>erative. This figure<br />

includes half of Quebec residents.<br />

CMC was involved in <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>nvert, a research<br />

project examining the process conversion to<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. One of its findings was that only<br />

7% of business owners had already considered<br />

converting to co-<strong>op</strong> while 17% were somewhat<br />

likely to have considered it.<br />

“Business owners and entrepreneurs are not<br />

necessarily familiar with the co-<strong>op</strong>erative business<br />

model,” says Mr Brunette, adding that the model<br />

30 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

should be taught in schools – as actually happens<br />

in Quebec, where the high school curriculum<br />

includes running unincorporated co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

To address the lack of awareness around co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

at a national level, CMC tried to engage<br />

with groups such as the Women’s Economic<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil and the Pe<strong>op</strong>le Centred Economy Group<br />

to run joint advocacy campaigns and awareness<br />

raising initiatives.<br />

A bilingual association, CMC was formed in<br />

2014 through the merger of the Canadian <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Association (CCA) and the <strong>Co</strong>nseil<br />

Canadien de la <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>ération et Mutualité (CCCM).<br />

“The purpose of that was to establish one<br />

strong Canadian voice: everything we do is<br />

bilingual,” says Mr Brunette. In addition to<br />

French and English, some provincial associations<br />

<strong>op</strong>erate in local dialects, particularly in Arctic<br />

communities. CMC aims to help connect these<br />

different provincial co-<strong>op</strong>erative associations<br />

and Franc<strong>op</strong>hone and Angl<strong>op</strong>hone co-<strong>op</strong><br />

organisations.<br />

“Some co-<strong>op</strong>s are at the heart of the<br />

community because they provide access to<br />

essential products and services,” says Véronique<br />

Boucher, communications manager at CMC.<br />

Explaining what a co-<strong>op</strong>erative is to the<br />

national press is not without challenges. Large<br />

newspapers with business sections are less<br />

likely to cover co-<strong>op</strong>s than local papers, says<br />

Mr Brunette. “It really depends on who you’re<br />

talking to. In many places across Canada co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

are omnipresent.”<br />

Such is the case of Quebec, a province that is<br />

home to over 3,000 co-<strong>op</strong>s and mutuals. Quebecbased<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nseil Quebecoise <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>ératives et de la<br />

Mutualité (CQCM) ran a bilingual campaign<br />

to promote co-<strong>op</strong>s called <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Effect, which<br />

managed to attract coverage in the local press.<br />

There is also competition from non co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

“Some pe<strong>op</strong>le have appr<strong>op</strong>riated some of the best<br />

practices of co-<strong>op</strong>s but at the end of day, they’re<br />

still for profit,” says Mr Brunette. “So there’s that<br />

the ‘I don’t know enough’; versus the ‘oh, I have an<br />

erroneous assumption of the co-<strong>op</strong> is so it’s more<br />

than an affinity purchasing programme’.”<br />

CMC’s priorities are helping the social<br />

economy and co-<strong>op</strong>s to secure investment and be<br />

prepared to receive it, doing feasibility studies,<br />

making sure that social economy investors know<br />

about co-<strong>op</strong>s, and co-<strong>op</strong>s are aware of available<br />

funding. Rather than trying to engage with the<br />

wider public, CMC is targeting specific groups<br />

such as women in business or young pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

“Just putting money out for front page ads on<br />

national newspapers is not going to solve the<br />

[awareness] problem,” warns Mr Brunette.<br />

Individual co-<strong>op</strong>s also help to spread<br />

awareness about the sector. Some co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

actively promote their co-<strong>op</strong>erative identity –<br />

including via their branding. Among these is<br />

Sollio <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Group, which rebranded<br />

in 2020 from La co<strong>op</strong> fédérée. “They’re trying<br />

to showcase the co-<strong>op</strong>erative difference in<br />

everything, from their message or media<br />

messaging to their packaging,” says Mr Brunette.<br />

Canada also celebrates its national <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Week in October. For this, CMC prepares a<br />

standardised national message which is then<br />

picked up by provincial associations. This<br />

Some co-<strong>op</strong>s are at the heart of the<br />

community because they provide access<br />

to essential products and services”<br />

– Véronique Boucher, communications manager,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and Mutuals Canada<br />

gets the attention of provincial newspapers,<br />

particularly in areas with a rich co-<strong>op</strong> history<br />

like Quebec, with occasional mentions in the<br />

national press as well.<br />

Mr Brunette says promoting the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

difference “comes down to more strategic<br />

conversations” with government officials – and<br />

it’s important to run the campaign pr<strong>op</strong>erly,<br />

because messages from big flash campaigns<br />

could be forgotten if they are not repeated.<br />

Ms Boucher adds that, for most consumers,<br />

what matters most is that their needs are<br />

fulfilled. “If the co-<strong>op</strong>s are doing a good job, they<br />

will get clients who will come back,” she says.<br />

When they get clients the co-<strong>op</strong>s will be able to<br />

share their message.”<br />

t Véronique Boucher<br />

(left) and Daniel<br />

Brunette<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 31

Experiencing the co-<strong>op</strong> difference:<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative summer camps<br />

Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

Summer camps are places of discovery for<br />

young pe<strong>op</strong>le, so it is unsurprising that co<strong>op</strong><br />

organisations in North America have been<br />

offering a co-<strong>op</strong> twist on the experience to help<br />

share the movement’s values.<br />

One example is the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Leadership<br />

Camp, run by the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>uncil of North<br />

Carolina (CCNC). Now in its 85th year, it hosts<br />

up to 100 teenagers from across the state, giving<br />

them the <strong>op</strong>portunity to experience life running<br />

a co-<strong>op</strong>, alongside traditional camp activities<br />

like canoeing, hiking and archery.<br />

This year the camp runs from 20-24 June at<br />

Camp Monroe in Laurel Hill. Throughout the<br />

week, young pe<strong>op</strong>le are thrown into a simulation<br />

of building and managing a T-shirt worker co<strong>op</strong>,<br />

where they must apply co-<strong>op</strong> principles and<br />

values them while responding to challenges.<br />

“It’s a really crazy week,” says Emily Nail,<br />

CCNC’s executive director. “The biggest thing<br />

that comes out of it is they learn what a co-<strong>op</strong> is.<br />

A lot of these students don’t understand that a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> is a business <strong>op</strong>tion, and they don’t have<br />

that education in their high school curriculum.”<br />

Ms Nail says CCNC’s summer camp is a “handson<br />

experience ... like a cultural immersion.”<br />

This is different from communication through<br />

other means, such as social media, because it<br />

is woven into a life experience that involves not<br />

only a focus on co-<strong>op</strong>s, but a chance to devel<strong>op</strong><br />

socially in a new environment, mixing with<br />

young pe<strong>op</strong>le from different parts of the state.<br />

Attendees say the camp has had a profound<br />

effect on them. One young person, Gabbi, came to<br />

camp in 2018 and said at the end: “Before I came<br />

[to camp], a leader to me was doing all the work<br />

and telling pe<strong>op</strong>le what to do. But here it’s like<br />

everybody’s a leader and everybody takes charge.”<br />

Attending the same year was Abbie, who said:<br />

“I’ve noticed that when working in groups there’s<br />

times when you step up and take the lead and<br />

times when you don’t. You’ve got to recognise<br />

those times you do take the lead, recognise your<br />

I know I will never forget<br />

my time at CYL ... I will<br />

probably end up choosing<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> business as a career<br />

32 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

strengths and weaknesses and notice when<br />

somebody else is stronger at something than you<br />

are and let them take the lead.”<br />

Another young person, H<strong>op</strong>e, said camp had<br />

“taught me more about co-<strong>op</strong>s ... I met a lot of<br />

new interesting pe<strong>op</strong>le who were like-minded<br />

and we talked about goals in life. I thought that<br />

was an interesting thing to see, that there’s other<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le my age that want to go and do great<br />

things in this world.”<br />

Ms Nail has seen the camp “<strong>op</strong>ening students’<br />

eyes” to co-<strong>op</strong>s. Many go on to participate in the<br />

movement, from supporting co-<strong>op</strong> brands to<br />

joining as members or employees. She tells the<br />

story of Marshall Cherry, who was sponsored by<br />

Roanoke Electric <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> to attend the camp as a<br />

teenager, and this year became its CEO.<br />

“He went to camp back before I was born,<br />

and was sponsored by Roanoke Electric, went to<br />

camp, had no idea what a co-<strong>op</strong> was,” says Ms<br />

Nail. “He went back to school, went to college,<br />

came back home and went to Roanoke and<br />

said, ‘You sent me to camp when I was a high<br />

schooler. I know what the co-<strong>op</strong>erative is. I know<br />

what the co-<strong>op</strong>erative difference is. Do you have<br />

a job for me? And so they hired him. And now a<br />

couple decades later, he is their new CEO. And<br />

has stayed with Roanoke the whole time.”<br />

She adds: “These students are going to be our<br />

future leaders and several of our more rural co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

want them to come back with an interest in<br />

making their community thrive, and continuing<br />

that business model.”<br />

In Canada, the Alberta <strong>Co</strong>mmunity & <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Association (ACCA) has been running<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Youth Leadership programme<br />

since 1957, inviting 200 teenagers a year to<br />

Nordegg in the Rockies for a week of outdoor<br />

adventure and co-<strong>op</strong> activities.<br />

ACCA says the camp “motivates youth with<br />

living examples of how local co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

and agricultural organisations are influential<br />

key players in building and maintaining<br />

communities.” They encourage co-<strong>op</strong>s to<br />

sponsor participants’ places, adding: “Many of<br />

these youth will become active members in your<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> or credit union and active volunteers and<br />

influencers in their community.”<br />

Canada’s longest running co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

summer camp is run by the Saskatchewan <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Association (SCA), now under the<br />

banner of Camp Kindling. In 1928, SCA set up a<br />

summer <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> School to communicate how co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

support Saskatchewan farmers. Sharing the<br />

benefits of the co-<strong>op</strong> model with young pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

was seen as essential to the continuation of the<br />

movement in Saskatchewan.<br />

In the 1970s, the programme changed its name<br />

from <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> School to Saskatchewan <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Youth Program, marking a shift from formal<br />

teaching to hands-on immersive experiences<br />

with a greater focus on personal and collective<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment within a co-<strong>op</strong>erative context.<br />

Now with almost 45,000 alumni, Camp<br />

Kindling says the camp’s longevity is “an<br />

unmistakable sign that the programme has truly<br />

touched the lives of Saskatchewan pe<strong>op</strong>le”.<br />

Another camp, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Young Leaders<br />

(CYL), is run by the Ontario <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Association. The week-long summer camps take<br />

place at the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Education Centre near<br />

Aylmer Ontario, at the Gay Lea Dairy Museum.<br />

Over 3,500 young pe<strong>op</strong>le aged 13 to 18 have<br />

attended since 1967.<br />

Ebony, a senior participant in 2019, said in a<br />

testimonial: “I know I will never forget my time<br />

at CYL and that I will probably end up choosing<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> business as a career path. [The camp<br />

director], the other facilitators and the program<br />

of CYL has inspired me to use my life this way.”<br />

Ebony’s remarks resonate with others who<br />

spoke about what they got from attending a<br />

summer camp – the value of a shared human<br />

experience. Young pe<strong>op</strong>le who attend these<br />

camps gain their understanding of the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

difference from these collective<br />

experiences, and the memories they take away.<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 33

Testing times: Can memberled<br />

values revive county cricket?<br />

Miles Hadfield<br />

p Allegations by<br />

Azeem Rafiq of racist<br />

bullying at Yorkshire<br />

shook the cricket<br />

world and prompted a<br />

restructure at the club<br />

(Photo: Dave Morton/<br />

Wiki CC)<br />

The racism scandal at Yorkshire <strong>Co</strong>unty Cricket<br />

Club has led to a high-profile member vote on a<br />

series of reforms – a reminder of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

model used in the county game.<br />

Yorkshire is one of more than a dozen clubs<br />

in the county cricket network to use the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

model but this has not kept the game out<br />

of trouble over recent years, with declining<br />

participation and rising debts.<br />

Meanwhile, onlookers have pointed to a low<br />

turnout in the vote on Yorkshire’s reforms, with<br />

ESPN’s cricket editor David H<strong>op</strong>ps writing that<br />

this “underlines that Yorkshire have suffered<br />

both from a flood of member resignations or<br />

non-renewals”.<br />

The row stems from complaints by former<br />

Yorkshire cricketer, Azeem Rafiq, who said he<br />

had been subjected to racist abuse and bullying<br />

during his two spells at the club, between 2008–<br />

2014, and 2016–2018.<br />

Accusing the club of being institutionally<br />

racist, he complained officially in 2018, but<br />

an independent inquiry was not launched<br />

until 2020, leading to criticism of the club for<br />

its handling of the affair. Its chair resigned in<br />

November 2021, being replaced by Lord Kamlesh<br />

Patel, who drew up plans to restructure the club.<br />

Of the club’s 6,000 members, only 3,000 are<br />

full voting members; of those, only 1,100 voted,<br />

in person or via proxy, at an emergency general<br />

meeting. Held at the club’s Headingley ground,<br />

it saw 80% vote in favour of the changes.<br />

There were three votes at the meeting: one<br />

to ratify Lord Patel as chair; one to release<br />

Patel and others from personal liability on<br />

decisions taken, after threats of legal action; and<br />

finally one to restructure the board to include<br />

independent members.<br />

After his plan was accepted by members,<br />

Lord Patel said: “We welcome the outcome of<br />

this EGM and thank the members for their full<br />

and pr<strong>op</strong>er consideration, an <strong>op</strong>en exchange of<br />

views, and their votes. It means Yorkshire can<br />

stage internationals against New Zealand and<br />

South Africa this summer, in the process averting<br />

a major financial crisis. It is an overwhelming<br />

vote for positive change.<br />

“This support will help Yorkshire <strong>Co</strong>unty<br />

Cricket Club to be an inclusive and welcoming<br />

place and gives us the clarity and certainty we<br />

need to keep building this great club..”<br />

The England Cricket Board (ECB) said: “We are<br />

pleased that Yorkshire members have given their<br />

overwhelming support to these reforms. This is<br />

34 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

an important step forward in bringing about real<br />

change and setting the club on course for a more<br />

inclusive future.<br />

“We welcome the progress made by Lord Patel<br />

so far, as well as his commitment to making the<br />

club one which everyone, from all backgrounds,<br />

can be proud of. ”<br />

But the changes did not come without dissent<br />

– even though failure to ratify them would have<br />

cost the club the right to host international<br />

matches, threatening its survival. At one point,<br />

Lord Patel threatened to resign, warning that<br />

failure to ratify the vote would leave the club<br />

unable to compete in the domestic season or pay<br />

its players.<br />

Opposing him, former chair Robin Smith had<br />

led a rearguard action with threats of legal action<br />

against the reforms, arguing that the ECB was<br />

threatening the club’s independence. He accused<br />

Lord Patel of behaving undemocratically and<br />

called for his removal; but Yorkshire says the<br />

restructure follows Sport England guidelines.<br />

The row goes to the heart of the club’s co-<strong>op</strong><br />

status: Mr Smith is unhappy that the new board<br />

will have eight independent members, not<br />

drawn from the club membership, alongside two<br />

board members from the membership, plus the<br />

CEO and director of cricket.<br />

“A four to one ratio of outsiders to members<br />

as non-executives on the club’s board would so<br />

change the character of the club as to render<br />

it unrecognisable as a Yorkshire institution,”<br />

wrote Mr Smith in a leaked letter to Patel.<br />

But the reforms also had outspoken<br />

supporters. Julian Metherell, chair of the<br />

Professional Cricketers’ Association, backed the<br />

changes when he appeared before MPs on the<br />

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select<br />

committee in February, and has accused Mr<br />

Smith of “combative” behaviour.<br />

Another former chair, <strong>Co</strong>lin Graves, also<br />

supported the reforms – even though they<br />

reduced his own influence at Yorkshire. The<br />

Graves family trust is owed £15m by the club<br />

and, until Lord Patel’s changes, had a veto on<br />

board appointments and dismissals.<br />

A third ex-chair, Roger Hutton, had complained<br />

to the DCMS committee that Mr Graves, who was<br />

executive chair between 2012 and 2015, had too<br />

much power at the club.<br />

These questions of control and governance<br />

have come at a crucial time for Yorkshire –<br />

and for county cricket in general, with falling<br />

participation in the sport and the pandemic<br />

worsening the debt affecting many clubs.<br />

Problems in the game make an engaged,<br />

supportive membership vital – for instance, in<br />

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you<br />

are from, which background you come<br />

from, or how big your bank balance is. If<br />

you want to access cricket, you should be<br />

able to access cricket”<br />

its annual report for 2021, Yorkshire said that<br />

“a significant pr<strong>op</strong>ortion of members donated<br />

their annual membership fees, together with<br />

a large pr<strong>op</strong>ortion of members donating the<br />

ticket money from their purchases, and notable<br />

additional donations from members who wanted<br />

to help further.”<br />

The livestreaming of matches on Youtube<br />

is also helping to make the county game more<br />

accessible. Clubs are also streaming their AGMs;<br />

last week, Surrey <strong>Co</strong>unty Cricket Club posted<br />

its AGM online – and directly addressed the<br />

scandal at its northern rival. CEO Steve Elworthy<br />

said times are changing for the game – from the<br />

“brutal” pandemic season and the job losses it<br />

had brought, to changing audience demands.<br />

“Pe<strong>op</strong>le’s values have changed,” he said. “We<br />

need to reflect that we’ve got probably hundreds<br />

of thousands of pe<strong>op</strong>le coming through the gates<br />

this year, and we need to make sure that we can<br />

reflect those changes.”<br />

He saluted Azeem Rafiq’s “incredibly powerful<br />

testimony” and committed his own club to<br />

increasing diversity and equity. “It doesn’t<br />

matter who you are,” he said, “where you are<br />

from, which background you come from, or how<br />

big your bank balance is. If you want to access<br />

cricket, you should be able to access cricket.”<br />

Mr Elworthy said his club should also<br />

be ambitious on sustainability and carbon<br />

neutrality, and improve member engagement.<br />

Board member Ebony Rainford-Brent, chair<br />

of Surrey’s Culture and Values Board, gave a<br />

presentation on the ACE programme, a response<br />

by the club to the falling numbers of cricketers<br />

from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds. Working<br />

in partnership with other clubs – including<br />

Yorkshire – and backed by ECB and mutual<br />

insurer Royal London, the programme also<br />

targets other under-represented groups such<br />

as white working class pe<strong>op</strong>le and those from<br />

eastern Eur<strong>op</strong>ean backgrounds.<br />

“Let’s change it from a narrative of ‘we wish’ to<br />

‘let’s make something happen’,” she said.<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 35

100 years of ICMIF<br />

Anca Voinea<br />

p Shaun Tarbuck and<br />

Hilde Vernaillen<br />

The International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative and Mutual<br />

Insurance Federation (ICMIF) celebrated a<br />

milestone on 25 April – 100 years since its launch<br />

on the same date in 1922, in Rome.<br />

In those 100 years ICMIF has grown from a<br />

group of five Eur<strong>op</strong>ean mutual and co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

insurers to an apex of more than 200 member<br />

organisations in 61 countries, representing<br />

US$247bn in premium income and US$2tn in<br />

total assets.<br />

While its global headquarters are in the United<br />

Kingdom, ICMIF has regional associations in<br />

the Americas and Japan, bringing together 200<br />

values-based insurers in 61 countries.<br />

Its current chair, Hilde Vernaillen, is also<br />

the president and CEO of one of its founding<br />

members, the P&V Group (Belgium).<br />

During a special interview with ICMIF’s<br />

CEO, Shaun Tarbuck, Mr Vernaillen referred to<br />

P&V’s role in creating the global apex. She also<br />

explored ICMIF’s relevance today.<br />

“Joseph Lemaire, the then CEO of la<br />

Prévoyance Sociale (now known as P&V) in<br />

Belgium, had a vision to create a platform where<br />

purpose-driven insurers – co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

mutuals – could share their strategies and ideas<br />

in a non-competitive environment,” she said.<br />

“He brought together five organisations –<br />

including those now known as Folksam<br />

(Sweden), Unipol (Italy), Achmea (Netherlands) –<br />

and together they agreed to share knowledge,<br />

ideas and become a support for one another as<br />

inspirational leaders who wanted to use insurance<br />

to do good for the communities they served.<br />

“Fast forward 100 years, and that vision<br />

and purpose remains as true today. ICMIF’s<br />

members have collectively achieved so much for<br />

the insurance sector through their willingness<br />

to share strategies and support each other<br />

and by focusing on the long-term needs of the<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le they serve, whether they are employees,<br />

communities or strategic partners.”<br />

This purpose is paying off: Ms Vernaillen<br />

added that more than 70% of ICMIF members<br />

have exceeded their local market’s annual<br />

growth over the past financial year.<br />

“The leaders of these exceptionally well-run<br />

organisations are passionate about putting<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le first and each day they demonstrate<br />

their commitment to a sustainable future for the<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le they serve.<br />

“What I am most proud of is that our recent<br />

ICMIF Members Sustainable Investment Report<br />

2021 demonstrated that US$576bn of our<br />

36 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

members’ assets are aligned to sustainable<br />

investment frameworks and that members<br />

named in the report outperformed their ICMIF<br />

peers in annual premium growth comparisons<br />

against both the total market and their local<br />

markets. They also exceeded the five-year<br />

premium growth of all ICMIF members by almost<br />

11 percentage points.”<br />

Since the 1960s, ICMIF has also supported<br />

the creation of new co-<strong>op</strong>erative insurers in<br />

emerging markets, helping to set up more<br />

than 25 mutual insurers, including successful<br />

organisations such as NTUC Income (Singapore),<br />

CIC Insurance Group (Kenya) and <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa de<br />

Seguros Múltiples (Puerto Rico).<br />

As part of its co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment work,<br />

ICMIF is also scaling up microinsurers in some<br />

of the world’s most high-risk countries. The<br />

initiative forms part of ICMIF’s 5-5-5 Mutual<br />

Microinsurance Strategy and has resulted in<br />

insurance cover for 14.3 million of the world’s<br />

poorest pe<strong>op</strong>le over the last five years.<br />

As to the future, Ms Vernaillen said that a key<br />

focus for member would be risk prevention.<br />

“If preventing risk means reshaping their<br />

organisation away from a policy-focus towards<br />

risk-mitigation and<br />

education around<br />

prevention, then<br />

that’s what they will<br />

do. I am proud of our<br />

partnerships with<br />

the United Nations<br />

which have resulted<br />

in the devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

of the world’s first<br />

prevention hub,<br />

an <strong>op</strong>en-source<br />

repository of more<br />

than 50 cases studies,<br />

searchable by specially designed prevention<br />

mechanisms. Anyone has access to these. It is a<br />

gift to the insurance industry.<br />

“So, there is so much to be proud of but we<br />

cannot afford to stand still. The world is fragile<br />

and needs more great leaders who focus on<br />

putting pe<strong>op</strong>le first; who drive purpose into<br />

their cultures and decision-making; and who<br />

selflessly share their knowledge and expertise to<br />

help make the world a safer, kinder place.”<br />

She added that ICMIF would continue to play<br />

a key role in helping them achieve this.<br />

“ICMIF members will do this together. Because<br />

that is our strength, we really are stronger,<br />

together,” she said.<br />

ICMIF’s celebrations will culminate with a<br />

centenary conference in Rome on 25-28 October,<br />

which will be hosted by the Unipol Group.<br />

Under the theme of “Leading with purpose”,<br />

the conference will explore a range of strategic<br />

t<strong>op</strong>ics including the leadership role that mutual/<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative insurers can play in tackling<br />

global issues, driving sustainable practices and<br />

transitioning to a net-zero future.<br />

In a recent interview with AM Best, ICMIF CEO<br />

Shaun Tarbuck said that insurance is a long-term<br />

industry – adding that mutuals and co-<strong>op</strong>s act as<br />

the guardians of the future of the communities<br />

they represent.<br />

Since the 1960s ICMIF has also supported<br />

the creation of new co-<strong>op</strong>erative insurers<br />

in emerging markets, helping to set up<br />

over 25 mutual insurers”<br />

He explained that the conference would be “a<br />

big celebration of mutuality” and invited other<br />

mutuals and co-<strong>op</strong>s from other sectors to take<br />

part in it. Mr Tarbuck added that the core values<br />

and mutual and co-<strong>op</strong>erative insurers had<br />

stayed the same, the sector had become “more<br />

innovative and smarter” over the last couple of<br />

years. He argued that mutuals had an advantage<br />

of already being “purpose-led”.<br />

He said: “The ICMIF Centenary <strong>Co</strong>nference in<br />

Rome (25-28 October <strong>2022</strong>), hosted by the Unipol<br />

Group, one of our founding members, will be the<br />

high point of our centenary recognition year and<br />

we h<strong>op</strong>e to see as many members as possible<br />

join us for this face-to-face event.”<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 37

Building societies<br />

for the future<br />

Susan Press<br />

u Hilary McVitty,<br />

BSA head of external<br />

affairs<br />

On 26 February 1869, a special meeting<br />

was convened at a small hotel in London to<br />

consider setting up an organisation for the<br />

protection of building societies. Ever since, the<br />

Building Societies Association (BSA) has been<br />

championing an industry firmly rooted in co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

values.<br />

As membership organisations, building<br />

societies are owned by their savings and<br />

mortgage customers. Profits are reinvested for<br />

the benefit of members and communities that<br />

Societies serve. Building societies in the UK now<br />

have 25 million members … and growing.<br />

More than 150 years on from its inaugural<br />

meeting, the BSA is the trade association for all<br />

43 UK building societies and six of the larger<br />

credit unions, all of which are mutuals. It is<br />

also a member of the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Association of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Banks (EACB).<br />

The BSA conducts research, convenes working<br />

groups, and champions financial resilience,<br />

diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It<br />

also works hard in the expanding field of green<br />

finance and making housing more accessible at<br />

a time when pr<strong>op</strong>erty ownership is all too often<br />

perceived as a pipe-dream.<br />

Hilary McVitty, who has held a number of<br />

senior roles in the building society and banking<br />

sectors, has been BSA Head of External Affairs<br />

since 2011.<br />

“We are all part of the mutual family,” she<br />

says. “We represent all UK building societies and<br />

some of the larger credit unions and do quite a<br />

lot of work with the Friendly Societies. Overall,<br />

there are fewer building societies than there<br />

used to be but they are much larger.”<br />

It is a real marker of the difference mutuality<br />

can make that over the last few years, building<br />

societies have paid out significantly more in<br />

interest to savers than banks have been able to do.<br />

“A business owned by customers doesn’t have<br />

shareholders expecting maximum returns,” says<br />

Ms McVitty, adding that profit is important, but<br />

to re-invest for the future, not to maximise profits<br />

to pay-out in dividends.<br />

“This is how building society savers got<br />

£2.4bn more interest in the last three years than<br />

they would have got at big banks. Everybody is<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating within the overall market rate set by<br />

the Bank of England. It’s now gone up a couple<br />

of times but even so, it is way below inflation<br />

and that sets the overall environment in which<br />

we are setting mortgages and savings.<br />

“The general interest rate environment that<br />

affects everything and everyone is very low. We<br />

need to balance the interest charged to borrowers<br />

and the amount you pay to savers. Savers might<br />

receive a slightly lower income but we are much<br />

steadier and have a particular attitude to risk.”<br />

The first-ever building society – Richard<br />

Ketley’s – was formed at the Golden Cross Inn,<br />

Birmingham in 1775. The story goes that patrons<br />

38 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

waived their last pint and put the money into a<br />

communal pot to build houses. Each home was<br />

assigned to a Society member via ballot, and<br />

the process started again until every member<br />

had a home of their own, sparking the Building<br />

Society Movement.<br />

Then, as now, getting a roof over one’s<br />

head was a major struggle and in <strong>2022</strong> Hilary<br />

acknowledges times are very hard. That’s<br />

why building societies are more likely to help<br />

the self-employed, students, self-builders,<br />

older borrowers and those wanting to explore<br />

intergenerational mortgages to help families<br />

onto the housing ladder.<br />

Building societies are major players in the<br />

provision of shared ownership mortgages:<br />

typically someone buys 25% of their pr<strong>op</strong>erty and<br />

pays a mortgage on that, with the rest generally<br />

owned by a housing association, and they pay<br />

rent on that portion. Over time they can increase<br />

the amount they own up to 100%. Many younger<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le are <strong>op</strong>ting for this style of home-ownership<br />

as it gives them a real stake in their homes.<br />

Societies are also leading the charge with selfbuild<br />

homes – the fact they really know their<br />

areas and communities and tend to underwrite<br />

a loan manually means they are well placed to<br />

do this more complex type of lending. The same<br />

goes for lending to the self-employed. Manual<br />

underwriting – when a person considers a<br />

mortgage application rather than a computer<br />

algorithm, allows societies to serve those<br />

underserved in the rest of the mortgage market.<br />

“We cannot control house prices, that’s out<br />

of our gift, but we are lobbying to build more<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erties,” says Ms McVitty. “Prices are driven<br />

up because there is not enough housing and we<br />

are looking for the government to have joined-up,<br />

long-term housing policies. We also look at ways<br />

of constructing mortgages that help pe<strong>op</strong>le.”<br />

Deposits are an issue in pretty much all the<br />

consumer surveys the BSA carries out: “Around<br />

59% tell us raising a deposit is the biggest<br />

barrier. So one of the things the BSA has done is<br />

offer family deposit mortgages, where mums and<br />

dads or an existing borrower can borrow against<br />

equity and give to a family borrower, putting<br />

savings into an account as a level of security.”<br />

Despite the current financial climate, she is<br />

<strong>op</strong>timistic that building societies can be key in<br />

helping pe<strong>op</strong>le weather the storm.<br />

“I totally accept it is difficult but this is not<br />

necessarily a new phenomenon. In the late 1980s<br />

to early 1990s, when tax relief on mortgages was<br />

removed, pe<strong>op</strong>le were scrambling around to get<br />

mortgages. We have also been through negative<br />

equity. There are always all sorts of bumps in the<br />

road. Building societies have been through thick<br />

and thin and adapted to all sorts of changes<br />

and conditions, including world wars and<br />

pandemics.”<br />

At the height of the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 pandemic, the<br />

BSA did its utmost to keep branches <strong>op</strong>en,<br />

helping pe<strong>op</strong>le who were vulnerable to access<br />

cash and in some cases, actually physically<br />

delivering it.<br />

During this time, the sector processed<br />

hundreds of thousands of mortgage payment<br />

deferrals for pe<strong>op</strong>le who were worried about<br />

how they would survive financially.<br />

“Today we have a cost of living crisis and we<br />

are very much involved with thinking about<br />

anyone who thinks they may have difficulty<br />

paying their mortgage. We are keeping a very<br />

close eye on arrears and are mindful it may<br />

become a huge problem. What we do not want<br />

is pe<strong>op</strong>le to think that if they say nothing their<br />

problems will go away.”<br />

Building societies have ensured generations<br />

are financially safe and secure. In the years to<br />

come, the BSA is aiming to further levels of co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

across the mutual sector, engaging<br />

younger pe<strong>op</strong>le as much as possible, taking<br />

on the challenges around sustainability and<br />

climate change.<br />

“If I talk to my sons about mutuality their eyes<br />

glaze over, but they understand the concept<br />

of customer ownership,” Ms McVitty says.<br />

“Mutuals across a range of different businesses<br />

including co-<strong>op</strong>s and Friendly Societies can<br />

work together on the challenge around helping<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le understand the mutual difference.<br />

“Ownership matters. Every business says it has<br />

customers ‘at its heart’ but mutuals really do. It’s<br />

what staff and customers tell us, because being<br />

customer-owned drives our strategy, culture and<br />

behaviour. Staff working for societies say 39%<br />

of all the value created goes to their customers;<br />

staff at plcs say it’s 19%. Service, trust and<br />

competitive rates get high scores from building<br />

society customers, as does being treated fairly.<br />

Mutuality doesn’t make us perfect, but it means<br />

long-term and daily decisions are for pe<strong>op</strong>le –<br />

customers, staff and communities.”<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 39

<strong>Co</strong>mmunicating the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative difference:<br />

key tips from Singapore<br />

We speak to Ler Jun Sng, executive, Marketing <strong>Co</strong>mmunications &<br />

Partnerships at the Singapore National <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Federation<br />

(SNCF), an apex set up in 1980 which represents 99% of the<br />

country’s 1.4 million co-<strong>op</strong>erative members.<br />

Anca Voinea<br />

SNCF uses a range of social media channels to<br />

engage with members and non-members, in<br />

addition to trying to secure coverage in local and<br />

national media.<br />



Ler Jun Sng: SNCF shares [news] about the<br />

Singaporean co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement and<br />

stories on our co-<strong>op</strong>eratives/co-<strong>op</strong>erators, both<br />

internally within the co-<strong>op</strong>erative network and<br />

externally, with the general public, through<br />

media features in traditional print media and<br />

broadcast media, content on our website and<br />

social media channels, and events.<br />

SNCF seeks to help co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to<br />

strengthen their co-<strong>op</strong>s to better serve their<br />

members, the broader community and in<br />

turn transform the national economy. Beyond<br />

offering a suite of programmes and services to<br />

our co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, we also do the bridging role<br />

to connect co-<strong>op</strong>eratives with one another to<br />

explore partnership <strong>op</strong>portunities to further<br />

amplify and extend the reach of their work.<br />

At SNCF, a huge part of what we want<br />

to do is to engage the general public,<br />

especially the youth, on the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement through our social media<br />

channels”<br />



Ler Jun Sng: At SNCF, a huge part of what we want<br />

to do is to engage the general public, especially<br />

the youth, on the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement<br />

through our social media channels. To cater<br />

to the younger demographics who use social<br />

media extensively as part and parcel of their<br />

lives, as well as those who may not be familiar<br />

with the co-<strong>op</strong> movement, we use simpler terms<br />

to explain technical jargons and definitions,<br />

choose content that appeals to the youth, engage<br />

with trending t<strong>op</strong>ics/conversations, and partner<br />

with public personalities to further extend<br />

our reach to bigger and new audiences. The<br />

communication style is primarily informative<br />

through the use of bite-sized content and ad<strong>op</strong>ts<br />

a fun and less formal tone. We sometimes<br />

incorporate light-hearted humour through the<br />

use of memes.<br />




Ler Jun Sng: We work on creating content that<br />

aligns with common values to better connect<br />

with audiences who are not within the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

movement. With growing interest and more<br />

40 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

conversations on inclusivity and sustainability,<br />

we also curate content on these t<strong>op</strong>ics as we want<br />

to get them to engage in social conversations<br />

or act on it (e.g. doing their part to save the<br />

environment). We also partner with personalities<br />

who fit the themes we have identified and work<br />

with them to feature their stories on social<br />

media. At times, we also leverage social media<br />

channels of key stakeholders and co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

to further broadcast the stories to their followers.<br />


Ler Jun Sng: For social media we use Facebook,<br />

Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. In terms of<br />

traditional media, we use print, online, and<br />

broadcast channels (radio, TV).<br />



Ler Jun Sng: Our team comprises members who<br />

have handled media relations or worked closely<br />

with media professionals previously. Typically<br />

we will craft the media angle and narrative,<br />

prepare the media release or fact sheet as well<br />

as preparing the spokespersons/profiles for<br />

interviews, before pitching a story to the editors/<br />

reporters, and work with the reporters closely<br />

on queries they may have. We also pitch stories<br />

to vernacular media to cover reach to different<br />

audiences.<br />




Ler Jun Sng: Journalists often do their due<br />

diligence as part of their research work to find<br />

out and understand what a co-<strong>op</strong> is and how the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> model works. We try to make it easier for<br />

them to educate the public or their audience to<br />

digest the co-<strong>op</strong> model by furnishing them with<br />

additional information which may comprise<br />

sound bites, quotes or sharing of case studies.<br />


Ler Jun Sng: Take the time to plan your<br />

content calendar; we suggest doing it quarterly<br />

and reviewing from time to time. Figure out<br />

which personalities (including co-<strong>op</strong>erators,<br />

public figures, <strong>op</strong>inion leaders or advocates<br />

championing social causes) may resonate with<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> brand and are suitable for content<br />

collaboration and feature. It is useful to also<br />

engage with the youths, who are avid social<br />

media users, for content ideas and suggestions.<br />

We work on creating content that aligns<br />

with common values to better connect<br />

with audiences who are not within the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> movement.”<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 41

Cwmpas: a new direction for<br />

the Wales <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Centre<br />

Rebecca Harvey<br />

The Wales <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Centre was founded<br />

forty years ago and now runs multi-millionpound<br />

projects that support co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

social enterprises, and promote social and<br />

digital inclusion. As part of a major strategic<br />

review, the organisation has just launched a<br />

five-year strategy and a brand new look and feel,<br />

including a new name: Cwmpas.<br />

Over the last 12 months, the organisation<br />

has been working with the New Economics<br />

Foundation (NEF) to devel<strong>op</strong> the strategy.<br />

“This process involved a lot of research,<br />

conversations and consultation with members,<br />

clients and employees,” says Derek Walker,<br />

Cwmpas CEO. “During this time it became clear<br />

our current name and branding weren't working<br />

in the way we wanted them to. So we thought,<br />

well, it's our 40th birthday year, we've done a<br />

big review, let's follow what pe<strong>op</strong>le are telling<br />

us. Let's look at our branding.”<br />

During the consultation, the organisation<br />

“tried to think about what we wanted to achieve<br />

over the next five years”.<br />

“We started very much with the ‘why?’ and<br />

then looked at the ‘what?’ – and that was really<br />

galvanizing for us,” says Mr Walker. “Why are we<br />

here? What do we want to achieve? We're here<br />

because we believe in an economy and society<br />

that should work differently, putting pe<strong>op</strong>le and<br />

planet first. So that's our new vision statement<br />

on our strategy.”<br />

Underneath the statement, the organisation<br />

has three missions: creating a fairer, greener<br />

economy; building a more equal society; and<br />

making positive change happen.<br />

“Integral to all of this is being a co-<strong>op</strong>erative,<br />

working co-<strong>op</strong>eratively, and supporting the<br />

growth of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives as we've always done,”<br />

says Mr Walker.<br />

“It feels like the world and pe<strong>op</strong>le’s needs are<br />

changing so rapidly. We’re not just delivering<br />

services that members want or that we think are<br />

good things, but we’re actually trying to change<br />

things within society much more boldly than<br />

we have done previously. There is also a greater<br />

policy and influencing role coming through this<br />

new strategy than we had before.”<br />

Brand new brand<br />

The organisation worked with Creo, a branding<br />

and design agency in Cardiff, to fulfil a very<br />

specific brief.<br />

“We were trying to meet a very complicated<br />

set of criteria,” says Catherine Evans, policy<br />

and communications manager. “Through focus<br />

groups with members and staff it was clear that<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le wanted a shorter name and one that<br />

reflected our Welsh heritage, but also something<br />

that would be easy for somebody who wasn't<br />

a Welsh speaker. It couldn't just be a random<br />

word, it had to be aligned to our values and what<br />

42 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

we're delivering. The brief sounded perfectly<br />

straightforward when we set it out, but it was<br />

actually a really tough challenge.”<br />

This challenge was made even more<br />

complicated by completing the brief in a co<strong>op</strong>erative,<br />

collaborative way. “It was really<br />

important to us that we involved our members<br />

and our 100 plus staff team,” adds Ms Evans.<br />

“It was vital that everybody had an input in the<br />

discussion, fed back on all the ideas and could<br />

come up with their own ideas. Because of this,<br />

the outcome is really strong.”<br />

She believes that Cwmpas meets all of the<br />

criteria. “It’s short. It is a Welsh word. It is<br />

something that someone who doesn't live in<br />

Wales or speak Welsh can relate to.<br />

“We work with lots of very different clients.<br />

We don’t tell them what they should do or what<br />

their destination should be. We help them<br />

decide on that destination for themselves and<br />

help them get to where they want to be, whether<br />

that is setting up a new co-<strong>op</strong>erative business<br />

or social enterprise, transitioning to employee<br />

ownership or doing something around digital<br />

transformation. So from the point of view of<br />

summing up what we do and how we do it,<br />

Cwmpas felt like the perfect fit. It’s not a direct<br />

Welsh translation of the word ‘compass’, but it<br />

does encapsulate all those ideas of sc<strong>op</strong>e and<br />

vision and journey.”<br />

A new look for the future<br />

This is reflected in the organisation’s new<br />

logo, too. “We wanted something that was<br />

really confident and bold and different,” says<br />

Ms Evans. “It’s really distinctive, and almost<br />

looks like a stamp on something. We wanted<br />

something that felt like we were saying, ‘We're<br />

Cwmpas, here we are, this is our mark, and we're<br />

proud to use it.”<br />

“We also really like the way the arrow looks in<br />

the C” says Mr Walker. “It’s almost a secret thing<br />

that you don't automatically see, but which<br />

works with this sort of word.<br />

He adds: “This is a significant change for<br />

us and we wanted to illustrate that we are<br />

an organization that is confident and clear<br />

where it's heading. We wanted a modern look,<br />

something that is different whilst recognizing<br />

that we're still a proud Welsh organisation and<br />

we're still a proud co-<strong>op</strong>erative organisation.”<br />

The team knew they didn't want to go with the<br />

heritage colours seen in a lot of Welsh businesses,<br />

and instead sought a colour palette that was<br />

“approachable and friendly and modern, but at<br />

the same time expert, professional and credible.”<br />

And although it’s not in the new one-word<br />

name itself, “co-<strong>op</strong>erative will be front and<br />

centre of the new brand,” adds Mr Walker. “We<br />

will still be using the .co<strong>op</strong> domain and for our<br />

website address and on our email stems, and<br />

we will still be making it clear that we're a co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment agency right throughout<br />

our branding.”<br />

As part of the organisation’s birthday year,<br />

it has taken part in a Twitter takeover and<br />

launched an oral history project, collecting<br />

testimony from pe<strong>op</strong>le who have been involved<br />

with the organization over the last 40 years.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e General Assembly,<br />

which Cwmpas was planning to host in <strong>May</strong>, is<br />

now taking place online, but the organisation is<br />

looking to host a conference in the autumn, run<br />

a competition with schools, and put together a<br />

film about its history.<br />

This is a significant change for us and<br />

we wanted to illustrate that we are an<br />

organisation that is confident and clear<br />

where it’s heading”<br />

– Catherine Evans, policy and communications manager<br />

“We are also doing some work around tree<br />

planting in Wales to make sure that we're leaving<br />

a sustainable legacy of our 40th year,” says Mr<br />

Walker.<br />

“We have had an extraordinary amount of<br />

support for the changes, but being a co-<strong>op</strong>erative,<br />

and being a co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment agency<br />

is extremely important to us and our members,<br />

and our members have made it very clear right<br />

throughout this process that changing the name<br />

doesn't change that part of who we are.”<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 43

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration in a crisis<br />

When disaster strikes<br />

Alice Toomer-McAlpine<br />

q SEWA played a<br />

key part in the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

response to <strong>Co</strong>vid-19<br />

in India<br />

“The trees that grow in stormy climates strike<br />

the greatest roots,” writes a contributor under<br />

the alias of ‘H<strong>op</strong>eful’ in an 1863 issue of The<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erator. The writer was reflecting on the role<br />

of the co-<strong>op</strong> movement during the Lancashire<br />

<strong>Co</strong>tton Famine.<br />

Between 1861 and 1865, members of the<br />

Rochdale Pioneers’ co-<strong>op</strong>erative withdrew<br />

£83,000 to cover living costs in times of<br />

unemployment. Local co-<strong>op</strong>s also set up relief<br />

committees to support workers and their families<br />

with hardship funds and soup kitchens.<br />

Over the years there have been countless<br />

examples of co-<strong>op</strong>s stepping up for their<br />

communities in a crisis – through fire and famine<br />

and world wars. Retired co-<strong>op</strong>erative librarian<br />

Gillian Lonergan says: “For me, it all springs<br />

from where co-<strong>op</strong>eratives came from ... they are<br />

set up for the needs of the members, whatever<br />

those needs might be. So right from the early<br />

days, looking after the community, whether it’s<br />

a big or tiny little community, co-<strong>op</strong>s have been<br />

placed to respond to needs.”<br />

The Philippines is home to a strong co-<strong>op</strong><br />

movement: it has over 18,000 co-<strong>op</strong>s with a<br />

combined membership of 11.5 million members.<br />

In a country that experiences around 25<br />

typhoons a year, this network often plays a role<br />

in responding and building resilience.<br />

Last year, CLIMBS Life and General Insurance<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative launched its enhanced Weather<br />

Protect Insurance product, which uses<br />

blockchain and smart agriculture to offer farmers<br />

protection against extreme weather. Working<br />

with a number of international and national<br />

partner co-<strong>op</strong>s, they were able process members’<br />

claims within 10 days when Typhoon Rai (aka<br />

Odette) hit the Philippines before Christmas.<br />

Donna Dizon, vice president, administration<br />

and corporate planning at CLIMBS, describes<br />

the launch of this product as a “breakthrough”,<br />

explaining that “our goal is really to help build<br />

resilient co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and communities”.<br />

CLIMBS also provides immediate relief and<br />

support to communities affected by disasters<br />

through its CLIMBS <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Action Response<br />

to Emergency Services (CARES) programme.<br />

“What we call the mutual difference, is<br />

that the owners are the members, so we know<br />

them,” says Ms Dizon. “We have bases in the<br />

communities, so it’s really at grassroots level.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s <strong>op</strong>erate in the first instance at a<br />

“barangay”, or town hall, level when disaster<br />

strikes, she adds. During this process,<br />

communication will be made with the co-<strong>op</strong>s’<br />

member owners and partner organisations via a<br />

range of platforms, including digital.<br />

Sometimes face-to-face communication is the<br />

only way to reach members during an emergency,<br />

adds Rowena Abella, marketing vice president at<br />

CLIMBS. “The areas affected by Odette could not<br />

be communicated with because the lines were<br />

cut, so our president went there, to Bohol, to<br />

physically give the goods.”<br />

Another priority for CLIMBS is inviting more<br />

young pe<strong>op</strong>le into the co-<strong>op</strong>, in part through a<br />

range of educational programmes. “Educating<br />

our younger generation on co-<strong>op</strong>erativism is<br />

really important because although the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

model is already over 100 years old, it remains a<br />

very relevant model,” says Ms Dizon.<br />

44 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

CLIMBS will soon launch the mobile<br />

Ko<strong>op</strong>Skwela Learning Hub, offering basic<br />

reading, writing and maths lessons to young<br />

Filipino pe<strong>op</strong>le – a vital provision now that the<br />

pandemic has disrupted schooling.<br />

International communication is also a key<br />

consideration. “CLIMBS is a local product,<br />

but we have gone global,” says Ms Dizon.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> has presented its Weather Protect<br />

Insurance project as its contribution towards<br />

#<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s2030, aiming to address a number of the<br />

UN Sustainable Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Goals, including<br />

climate action, no hunger and zero poverty.<br />

Meanwhile in the UK, an international working<br />

group (IWG) has been established to support the<br />

planning, coordination and delivery of the UK<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> movement’s international activity. Sarah<br />

Alldred, who sits on the IWG, explains that while<br />

the UK has a track record of being very generous<br />

in crisis, the IWG h<strong>op</strong>es to provide a space to<br />

tell the stories of this work and show members<br />

where their support goes.<br />

A recent example is a partnership between the<br />

IWG and the Self Employed Women’s Association<br />

(SEWA), in response to the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 pandemic in<br />

India. Over £100,000 was raised by UK co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

with £70,000 going to immediate relief such as<br />

medical kits and food. The rest is supporting the<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment of two new women’s co-<strong>op</strong>s – a<br />

research co-<strong>op</strong> and a media co-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

Mirai Chatterjee, director of the social security<br />

unit at SEWA, said <strong>Co</strong>vid had been the worst<br />

crisis to hit India since partition, but added:<br />

“The solidarity and the support that we got from<br />

the UK co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement has been very<br />

touching ... it has been a true manifestation of the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative spirit, of the spirit of partnership.”<br />

Dr Alldred agrees. “I always go back to the<br />

values and principles,” she says. “It’s a ‘trade<br />

not aid’ approach, it’s working in solidarity with<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s around the world. It’s not, ‘we’re telling<br />

you what to do', because we’ve got so much to<br />

learn from them as well.”<br />

But it’s not so clear as to whether the wider<br />

public sees this difference – at least in the UK.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s have never been good at shouting<br />

about what they do,” says Ms Lonergan. “At<br />

the time when it was so heavily embedded in<br />

communities, right to the 1920s, 1930s, they<br />

tended to just sort of take it for granted that this<br />

relationship would continue.”<br />

But she believes public understanding of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s is increasing, and that it is stories of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative action that will push this along.<br />

“The stories are so good, the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement should be getting better publicity<br />

than it is for what it’s doing,” she says. “And the<br />

more those stories come out, the more pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

will understand that co-<strong>op</strong>s can be useful if<br />

you’re having a hard time. At the moment you<br />

might not think of going to a co-<strong>op</strong> because<br />

you’re having a hard time, but would you think<br />

of going to a co-<strong>op</strong> when you’re having a good<br />

time? It’s the same sort of thing.”<br />

When it comes to telling these stories, the UK<br />

movement could turn to these different contexts<br />

around the world and throughout its history for<br />

inspiration. Between 1861 and 1865, as the <strong>Co</strong>tton<br />

Famine raged through Lancashire, membership<br />

of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers<br />

grew from 3900 to 5300.<br />

In his History of the Rochdale Pioneers, George<br />

Jacob Holyoake remarks on how co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

fared during those difficult times and what<br />

conclusions may be drawn: “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

proved to be no hothouse plant, requiring hotair<br />

apparatus and infinite watching, forcing, and<br />

coddling; but a hale, hearty, winter shrub, which<br />

will take root in any good soil, enjoys a blast,<br />

and grows strong by exposure.”<br />

p The aftermath of<br />

Typhoon Rai in the<br />

Philippines<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 45

Solidarity in times of war:<br />

How <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Ukraine is mobilising<br />

to support those affected<br />

The all-Ukrainian union of consumer co-<strong>op</strong>s (Ukrko<strong>op</strong>spilka –known<br />

as <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Ukraine) has been working tirelessly to provide products<br />

and services to members and customers, offer shelter to those<br />

displaced and bake bread to feed local communities. We speak to<br />

chair Illia Gorokhovskyi about how Ukraine’s co-<strong>op</strong>s are faring<br />

“The war has had an impact on every inhabitant<br />

of Ukraine, on every sector of the economy. But we<br />

still do not have information about the misfortune<br />

caused by the war on other co-<strong>op</strong>eratives,” says<br />

Mr Gorokhovskyi. “The situation is very difficult<br />

in cities that have recently been liberated from<br />

occupiers – I am talking about Chernihiv, Irpin,<br />

Bucha, Hostomel, Sumy.<br />

“Mariupol is also our great pain; the city is<br />

practically destroyed. I am constantly in touch<br />

with the leaders of the unions of consumer<br />

societies from these regions. Pe<strong>op</strong>le, who have<br />

gone through the hell of the Russian aggression,<br />

have experienced extreme torment and pain.<br />

Objects of consumer co-<strong>op</strong>eration in such<br />

regions also suffer significant damage; the<br />

infrastructure is being destroyed.<br />

“But all this cannot be compared with the<br />

pain and emotional trauma experienced by our<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le. We will find funds, we will repair the<br />

destroyed sh<strong>op</strong>s, but who will work for them<br />

if pe<strong>op</strong>le have nowhere to return, because<br />

their houses are destroyed, there is no water,<br />

electricity?”<br />

In the west of the country, which has been<br />

less affected by the conflict, consumer co<strong>op</strong><br />

stores continue to <strong>op</strong>erate. Supply chains<br />

were disrupted but “all these issues have been<br />

resolved, co-<strong>op</strong>erative stores provide pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

with basic food,” says Mr Gorokhovskyi.<br />

The region also welcomed more than 10<br />

million displaced Ukrainians from the east<br />

of the country. Many provided food and<br />

accommodation to those displaced while retail<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s switched to a 24/7 schedule to be able to<br />

meet demand for bread and to feed the military.<br />

“Our pe<strong>op</strong>le worked as long as necessary, no<br />

one said that they had exceeded the hours of<br />

work established by law. Many volunteered ... In<br />

such a difficult time for Ukrainians, there is no<br />

question: how many hours should I be at work?<br />

The question is different: what can I do as much<br />

as possible? There are many examples of our<br />

workers taking refugees into their homes.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative educational institutions in<br />

regions that have been less affected by the war<br />

have also welcomed displaced Ukrainians to<br />

their student dorms while others received staff<br />

and students from other regions, enabling them<br />

to continue <strong>op</strong>erating from their premises.<br />

Students from co-<strong>op</strong>erative colleges volunteer<br />

and some teachers and graduates have joined<br />

the military.<br />

“There are dead among the co-<strong>op</strong>erators. All<br />

of them are our pride and our pain. The names<br />

of our courageous, brave, best will always be<br />

imprinted in memory,” says Mr Gorokhovskyi.<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Ukraine is a member of Euro <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>,<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e and the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Alliance, through which it is able to<br />

engage with co-<strong>op</strong>erators in other countries.<br />

“I want to thank the leadership of Euro <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>,<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e, and the International<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance”, says Mr Gorokhovskyi,<br />

adding that the three organisations had<br />

responded “in a timely manner and with great<br />

understanding”. Some national apexes chose<br />

to support relief work in Ukraine by donating<br />

to organisations such as the Red Cross. But Mr<br />

46 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

Gorokhovskyi is sceptical. “The employees of the<br />

Red Cross, even after 35 days from the beginning<br />

of the war in Ukraine, did not reach those places<br />

where pe<strong>op</strong>le needed more help – in Mariupol,<br />

Kharkiv, Chernihiv,” he says. He also explains<br />

that the recent meeting between the president<br />

of the International <strong>Co</strong>mmittee of the Red Cross<br />

(ICRC), Peter Maurer and Russian authorities<br />

“outraged the Ukrainians”.<br />

Mr Maurer had also met with Ukrainian<br />

officials prior to visiting Russia. In an official<br />

statement, ICRC said that as a “neutral,<br />

impartial, humanitarian actor” it needs to speak<br />

with all sides of a conflict.<br />

But Mr Gorokhovskyi says ICRC does not<br />

provide information about how it chooses to<br />

use the funds it receives, including those from<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

“We realised that the assistance that our<br />

fellow co-<strong>op</strong>erators want to provide us would<br />

be more effective and useful if it is direct and<br />

provided on the principle of ‘from co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

to co-<strong>op</strong>eration’. After all, we understand better<br />

than the Red Cross how we should direct these<br />

funds. Everything will be done <strong>op</strong>enly and<br />

transparently. And we are ready to report on<br />

every cent spent.”<br />

Mr Gorokhovskyi believes Russian co-<strong>op</strong><br />

members should be barred from international<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative apexes. He also questions the ability<br />

of Russian co-<strong>op</strong>s to follow co-<strong>op</strong>erative values<br />

and principles. “What can today’s Russian co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

bring and give to the international<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative community? The moral of a country<br />

where the basic principles of co-<strong>op</strong>eration –<br />

freedom and democracy – have been violated for<br />

years?”<br />

He argues that membership fees from Russian<br />

members carry the heavy weight of Ukrainian<br />

deaths and calls on apexes to take action. “I<br />

am deeply convinced that the international co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

community must know not only its<br />

heroes, but also its anti-heroes.”<br />

The view is not shared by historian Rita<br />

Rhodes, author of The International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Alliance during War and Peace 1910-1950. Soviet<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s were allowed to remain in the ICA after<br />

the revolution, she says, for reasons of trade and<br />

to prevent the formation of a Red International<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance. But Soviet Russia remained<br />

an issue, especially after the <strong>Co</strong>ld War began in<br />

the 1940s and the USSR installed regimes in its<br />

central Eur<strong>op</strong>ean neighbours –regimes which<br />

gradually took control of their co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

“This was a big crisis for the ICA. On the<br />

one hand, co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in the Soviet bloc ran<br />

counter to its 1930s definition, and on the other<br />

it became obvious that they were seeking to take<br />

over the Alliance, which they could soon do by<br />

strength of affiliations. There was a real threat<br />

of the ICA becoming ‘the Red ICA’ and it became<br />

a crucial issue in international relations in the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ld War. North American co-<strong>op</strong>eratives had<br />

played a major role in the Alliance during WWII<br />

and they were still strongly represented. They<br />

could have done so again in the <strong>Co</strong>ld War but<br />

did not.<br />

“Their restraint therefore became a factor in<br />

keeping the ICA together," she says, adding that<br />

another major factor was its administration,<br />

which made some adroit moves.<br />

"Brilliant debates in the ICA <strong>Co</strong>ngress and<br />

meetings of its Executive and Central <strong>Co</strong>mmittees<br />

became important elements. The result was that<br />

the Soviet Bloc co-<strong>op</strong>erative movements were<br />

allowed to remain but as associate members.<br />

“It could be argued that this was another<br />

fudge but it facilitated quick ICA help to those<br />

movements when <strong>Co</strong>mmunism and the Iron<br />

Curtain collapsed in the late 1980s and early<br />

1990s. They then returned to full membership.<br />

“Because of this complex and at times even<br />

tortured history I trust the ICA will hesitate to<br />

expel Russian co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. They have been<br />

full members for over 30 years and shared the<br />

Alliance’s culture. An important part of that<br />

is its quest for world peace for which it has a<br />

long history. Moreover, war creates tensions<br />

that could prompt unwise hasty decisions. We<br />

do not know the views of Russian co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

to Putin, his war, or Ukrainian co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

Until we do, I trust the Alliance will retain its<br />

Russian members. It would be so ironic if they<br />

were hastily jettisoned after all the difficulties<br />

the Alliance has experienced in retaining them<br />

and achieving continuity since 1895.”<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 47

Leigh Sparks<br />

Analysis:<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Group Financial<br />

Results 2021<br />

The period since early March 2020 has been<br />

a turbulent and traumatic one for everyone.<br />

Even now, we are living in the aftershocks of<br />

the pandemic, with a high <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 incidence<br />

in the p<strong>op</strong>ulation and consequent impacts on<br />

demand and supply and business <strong>op</strong>erations,<br />

including distribution. “Living with <strong>Co</strong>vid” is<br />

not as straightforward as some would make out.<br />

The publication of the 2021 financial results<br />

for the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group are thus of more<br />

than normal interest. Trading in turbulent times<br />

is not to be taken for granted. The pandemic<br />

affects the assessment of performance. What<br />

is the underlying <strong>op</strong>erational and business<br />

performance and what are pandemic impacts,<br />

shocks or responses? Is our comparator the prepandemic<br />

“normal”, or do we accept that the<br />

world has been transformed and <strong>op</strong>erations<br />

remain essentially short-term and reactive?<br />

For instance, the 2021 sales figure for the Group<br />

is £11.2bn. This is a decline from 2020 when<br />

the figure was £11.5bn. On the surface, this is<br />

disappointing – but 2020 was a very strong year<br />

as lockdowns and other restrictions favoured the<br />

local store model. The last pre-pandemic year<br />

(2019) saw sales at £10.9bn which was itself up<br />

from £10.2bn in 2018 (due in part to the Nisa<br />

acquisition). What is the appr<strong>op</strong>riate benchmark<br />

year? More critically, perhaps, what should our<br />

expectations be in this changed world? Should<br />

we be disappointed in not holding on to the sales<br />

gains of 2020 or should we accept it was never<br />

likely to be sustained?<br />

Table 1 provides the numbers for the (selfidentified)<br />

key performance indicators (KPIs) for<br />

the Group. In this table, the data is taken back to<br />

2018 to allow for a short pre-pandemic trajectory<br />

as well as two years (differentially) impacted<br />

by <strong>Co</strong>vid-19. The data, especially the purely<br />

financial figures, shows two issues.<br />

First, on every measure the results show that<br />

2020 was an exceptional year for the Group.<br />

What caution there is for 2020 comes in the<br />

non-financial figures, where active membership<br />

numbers fell, as did rewards spending (though<br />

the base rate reduced in October 2020).<br />

Secondly, there is the question of considering<br />

2021 against 2020 and/or the years before. Here<br />

the story is not as positive, with figures generally<br />

returning to, or below, the 2019 and 2018 levels.<br />

While sales are greater in 2021, all profit measures<br />

are lower, and debt is now much higher. A<br />

10% increase in Group sales over three years<br />

has not really resulted in any overall financial<br />

improvement. Non-financial measures continued<br />

to decline – for example in active membership,<br />

rewards and colleague engagement.<br />

Almost 69% of the Group’s sales are in the food<br />

sector, with around 15% each in the wholesale<br />

and the federated components; food remains<br />

the driver of the Group’s performance. The store<br />

estate is being remodelled (50 new stores in<br />

2021, plus 87 stores renewed, 25 relocations and<br />

15 extensions), but overall store numbers fell (by<br />

29) and sales floorspace is at its lowest level in<br />

at least five years. There have been investments<br />

in branding and pricing, supply chain (a new<br />

depot) and colleague remuneration (Real Living<br />

Wage), while <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 costs continued (c£30m)<br />

in 2021. The supply chain has struggled to deliver,<br />

especially in the latter half of 2021, possibly due to<br />

new systems but also to wider global pandemicrelated<br />

issues and the consequences of dealing<br />

with fluctuating production and demand. The<br />

amount of stock in the Group had been reducing<br />

(from 16.4 stock days in 2018 to 14.6 in 2020),<br />

48 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>

ut it increased in 2021 (to 16 stock days). The<br />

e-commerce food business saw tremendous<br />

growth (reaching £200m sales in 2021 from £4m<br />

in 2019) but from an exceptionally low base.<br />

Roll-out of store focused e-commerce, microdistribution<br />

hubs and the links with Deliveroo,<br />

Starship and (more controversially) Amazon<br />

and Amazon Prime, would seem to be sensible<br />

given the pandemic surge in the local and online<br />

channels. The strategy seems clear.<br />

In presenting the results, the chair accepts<br />

this has been a challenging year but claims<br />

the “continued planned strategic investments<br />

mean… (we) are well placed to ride out the storm<br />

and prosper beyond”. The interim CEO, Shirine<br />

Khoury-Haq, pointed to the long-term strategy,<br />

investment in the business and the values of the<br />

Group as the building blocks for the future.<br />

But is the Group, with its focus on the local<br />

community and convenience market, as well<br />

placed as it might be? This was clearly working<br />

in 2020 as circumstances swung in the model’s<br />

favour. A stronger 2021 <strong>op</strong>erational performance<br />

might have been h<strong>op</strong>ed for. The figures and<br />

comments point to some internal <strong>op</strong>erating<br />

issues in addition to the impact of wider macro<br />

sector effects. Uncertainty hit cashflow and<br />

stockholding, adding to the debt and losing sales.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mpetition is not going to lessen, so it is<br />

critical that elements under the Group’s control<br />

are made as effective as possible. The pandemic<br />

has not gone away nationally or globally. The<br />

full implications on supply chains of Brexit<br />

remain to be felt, though they are becoming<br />

increasingly apparent. The war in Ukraine has<br />

caused a range of human and business impacts<br />

there and elsewhere, the full dimensions of<br />

which remain unclear. Individuals, communities<br />

and businesses are being pressured by the<br />

impact of rising costs and altered demand. That<br />

the business needs to be agile, resilient and<br />

flexible in the eye of these various challenges<br />

is heightened, but in an environment the like<br />

of which most have not experienced either as<br />

individuals or business managers.<br />

It is not clear how pe<strong>op</strong>le will react to these<br />

pressures, problems and difficult times. One<br />

would h<strong>op</strong>e that the values and strengths of<br />

communities and locales would come further<br />

to the fore, as they did in the initial stages<br />

of the pandemic. In this regard, the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group is more than a food retailer of course,<br />

and such values and behaviours help pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

and the planet. The financial p erformance is<br />

obviously important to allow this investment<br />

in <strong>op</strong>erations and activities within this wider<br />

context (<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erating for a Fairer World). More<br />

than ever the balance between these aspects<br />

of the Group needs to be borne in mind. But in<br />

the final analysis, if business <strong>op</strong>erations do not<br />

produce enhanced results, then difficult times<br />

and decisions lie ahead.<br />

Leigh Sparks is professor of retail studies at<br />

the University of Stirling. He also runs a<br />

retail blog at www.stirlingretail.com<br />

q Table 1: Key<br />

Performance<br />

Indicators<br />

2021 2020 2019 2018<br />

Underlying Pre-tax Profit (£m) £-32m £100m £35m £33m<br />

Underlying Operating Profit (£m) £100m £235m £173m £97m<br />

Debt (incl leases) (£bn) £2.4bn £1.97bn £2.16bn £0.8bn<br />

Debt (excl leases) (£m) £920m £550m £695m £764m<br />

Revenue (£bn) £11.15bn £11.47bn £10.86bn £10.16bn<br />

Operating Profit (£m) £64m £207m £173m £90m<br />

Profit before Tax (£m) £57m £127m £24m £83m<br />

Active Members (mn) 4.2m 4.3m 4.6m 4.6m<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Reward (£m) £19m £13m £11m £12m<br />

Member Reward(£m) £21m £45m £57m £60m<br />

Members Sales in Food (%age of total) 29% 30% 33% 33%<br />

<strong>Co</strong>lleague Engagement (%age) 72% 76% 76% 76%<br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> | 49

DIARY<br />

Do you have a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

event – taking place in<br />

person, online, or as a<br />

hybrid – to be featured?<br />

Tell us at:<br />

events@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

UKSCS Annual <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

26-28 August (Lincoln)<br />

The first in-person UK Society for <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Studies conference since 2019<br />

will take place at Lincoln University. <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

activists, students and researchers will<br />

meet to explore the theme: <strong>Co</strong>nsumer co<strong>op</strong>eratives:<br />

past, present and future.<br />

bit.ly/3EU3ahM<br />

ICA General Assembly<br />

20 June (Seville, Spain)<br />

Hosted by the Spanish <strong>Co</strong>nfederation of<br />

Worker <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (COCETA) in Seville,<br />

the meeting includes the elections for the<br />

ICA president and board of directors.<br />

bit.ly/3IhUvqu<br />

UK <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

24- 25 June (Birmingham, UK)<br />

Details tbc.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Solutions – Fuel Poverty<br />

30 June <strong>2022</strong> (Zoom)<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives East Midlands & <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

West Midlands host this online<br />

event 9.30am, following the AGM of CEM.<br />

jdevilliers@btinternet.com<br />

International Day of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

2 July<br />

A day of events to mark International Day<br />

of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives <strong>2022</strong><br />

2 July (Hebden Bridge, UK)<br />

10.45am: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative heritage walk led<br />

by co-<strong>op</strong> historian Andrew Bibby. Free.<br />

Meet foyer of Hebden Bridge Town Hall.<br />

1.30pm-4.30pm <strong>Co</strong>nference: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

work! Another economy is possible, plus<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong>s and stalls, at the Waterfront<br />

Hall, Hebden Bridge Town Hall. Free, with<br />

pre-booking advisable<br />

7.30pm <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration <strong>Co</strong>ncert with the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmoners’ Choir. Trades Club, £9/£6.<br />

Day’s events organised by Calderdale <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Association.<br />

calderco<strong>op</strong>s@gmail.com<br />

Playground for the New Economy<br />

12-14 July (Devon)<br />

Stir to Action’s Playground for the New<br />

Economy Festival is returning to its<br />

residential campus at Selgars Mill in Mid<br />

Devon for three days of panels, worksh<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

<strong>op</strong>en space, virtual reality experiences,<br />

sustainable food, and live music.<br />

stirtoaction.com/festival<br />

Federation of Southern <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

annual meeting<br />

18-20 August (Birmingham, Alabama)<br />

Celebrating 55 years of support for black<br />

farmers, landowners and co-<strong>op</strong>s in<br />

the southern USA. Includes the Estelle<br />

Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement<br />

Awards, plus an online component.<br />

federation.co<strong>op</strong><br />

World Credit Union <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

17-20 July (Glasgow)<br />

The World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit Unions will cohost<br />

its conference with the Association of<br />

British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL).<br />

Speakers include cyber security analyst<br />

Keren Elazari and behavioural science<br />

expert Belinda Parmar.<br />

wcuc.org<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

8-9 October (Leeds)<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party’s showcase of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative politics and the largest<br />

political online gathering of the year for<br />

the UK co‐<strong>op</strong>erative movement.<br />

party.co<strong>op</strong>/event/annconf022<br />

ICMIF Centenary <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

25-28 October <strong>2022</strong> (Rome)<br />

The ICMIF Centenary <strong>Co</strong>nference will be<br />

an event that stimulates original ideas for<br />

better business performance; that offers<br />

clear insights into the trends that are<br />

shaping the future of our industry; that<br />

provides a full and clear understanding<br />

of the powerful role that the sector too<br />

can play in redesigning insurance. The<br />

Centenary <strong>Co</strong>nference will be hosted<br />

by the Unipol Group, one of ICMIF’s<br />

founding members, in Rome, where the<br />

organisation was founded 100 years ago.<br />

icmif.org/icmif-conference/<br />

50 | MAY <strong>2022</strong>




FRESH<br />

IN A BAG<br />

coffee@revolver.co<strong>op</strong><br />

www.revolverworld.com<br />

01902 345 345

The Heart of<br />

England<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Society<br />

<strong>op</strong>ens £2.7 million<br />

Food store in<br />

Warwick.<br />

Customers here will be the first to try the<br />

Society’s own newly-launched Deli. <strong>Co</strong> range<br />

which includes breakfast, lunch, hot food<br />

to go, snacks, fresh cakes, baguettes and<br />

sandwiches, and fresh tea and coffee.<br />

Services include:<br />

• Indoor seating/outdoor seating<br />

• Amazon lockers<br />

• Electric vehicle charging facilities<br />

• Enhanced gifting area and horticulture area<br />

• Aquavape<br />

• Jimmy’s p<strong>op</strong>corn<br />

• Gift ideas by Warwickshire-based Prezzybox<br />

• Zero by Queenswood – a zero waste supplier.<br />

The store forms part of a wider £5.5 million<br />

retail park with four units.<br />


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