Co-op News March 2023

The March edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue includes a special news report on the response by co-ops to the earthquake disasters in Syria and Turkey. And we look at US Black History Month, International Women's Day and the UK Fairtrade Fortnight - including our shopping guide for a range of fabulous Fairtrade gifts. Plus reports from the Future Co-ops and UKSCS conferences, as the movement looks to define its role in dealing with the multiple crises facing the world. And there are features on waste picker co-ops in South America, the circular economy in Quebec and and the UN's Sustainable Development agenda.

The March edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue includes a special news report on the response by co-ops to the earthquake disasters in Syria and Turkey. And we look at US Black History Month, International Women's Day and the UK Fairtrade Fortnight - including our shopping guide for a range of fabulous Fairtrade gifts. Plus reports from the Future Co-ops and UKSCS conferences, as the movement looks to define its role in dealing with the multiple crises facing the world. And there are features on waste picker co-ops in South America, the circular economy in Quebec and and the UN's Sustainable Development agenda.


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MARCH <strong>2023</strong><br />




Plus … A Fair Future for all:<br />

coverage of the Future <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s and<br />

UKSCS conferences ... Fairtrade<br />

Fortnight highlights climate<br />

crises ... Securing fair livelihoods<br />

for waste pickers ... Equality:<br />

US Black History Month and<br />

International Women’s Day<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

770009 982010<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />


A fair future for all<br />




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


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CBP013875<br />

The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers knew the value of fairness.<br />

Equity – one of the six co-<strong>op</strong>erative values – is the quality of being fair and<br />

impartial; it’s treating everyone fairly and in the same way. It’s one of the<br />

defining f eatures o f c o-<strong>op</strong>eratives, a nd c an b e d emonstrated t hough a n<br />

organisation’s governance, membership, prices and more. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s make<br />

things fairer for pe<strong>op</strong>le and communities through their business models,<br />

they join in celebrations of fairness, and challenge that which is unfair.<br />

The idea of ‘fairness’ threads through this issue. Fairtrade Fortnight runs<br />

from 27 February to 12 <strong>March</strong> and highlights the unfairness of the<br />

impact of climate crises on producers (p32-34). We reflect on Black<br />

History Month, which in the USA is celebrated in February, and how ‘co-<strong>op</strong><br />

history is Black history’ (p35). And ahead of International Women’s<br />

Day (8 <strong>March</strong>) we explore the UN’s theme for the event (DIGITALL:<br />

innovation and technology for gender equality) and how co-<strong>op</strong>s are<br />

involved in the fight for digital fairness for women (p36-37).<br />

Fairness was a theme at the Future <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s <strong>2023</strong> conference too, which<br />

looked at how co-<strong>op</strong>s and communities can address the lack of access to<br />

basic needs – including housing, food, energy, secure employment and<br />

digital access – in a fair, equitable, dignified and culturally appr<strong>op</strong>riate way<br />

(p26-28). And from South America, we hear how waste pickers are<br />

securing better, fairer livelihoods through co-<strong>op</strong>erative organising<br />

(p38-40).<br />

We also have an interview with Andrew Bibby, whose new book,<br />

These Houses Are Ours, explores a legacy of co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment between 1870 and 1919, particularly ‘co-partnership<br />

tenant societies’, which were established to provide good homes at fair<br />

and affordable rents in tenant-run communities (p48-49).<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are born of need, and rally in times of desperation<br />

and catastr<strong>op</strong>hic unfairness. On 7 February, parts of Southern<br />

Turkey and Northern Syria were devastated by 7.8 and 7.7 magnitude<br />

earthquakes. On p12-13 we hear from the co-<strong>op</strong>s responding to this<br />

event, and receive updates about practical actions being undertaken by<br />

organisations around the world. Our thoughts are with all the pe<strong>op</strong>le,<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s and communities that have been hit by this tragedy.<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 />

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MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 3

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

01<br />



The Friends of the Joiners Arms are among<br />

the groups supported by community<br />

shares (p5); The co-<strong>op</strong>s supporting<br />

emergency appeals following February’s<br />

earthquake in Turkey and Syria (p12-13);<br />

Circular economy strategies in Quebec<br />

(p46-47); A co-<strong>op</strong> solution to securing<br />

better livelihoods for waste pickers<br />

(p38-40); John Brodie, who celebrates 30<br />

years at Scotmid (p22-23)<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong><br />




Plus … A Fair Future for all:<br />

coverage of the Future <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s and<br />

UKSCS conferences ... Fairtrade<br />

Fortnight highlights climate<br />

crises ... Securing fair livelihoods<br />

for waste pickers ... Equality:<br />

US Black History Month and<br />

International Women’s Day<br />

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

£4.20<br />

COVER: Turkey and Syria<br />

The International Federation of Red<br />

Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)<br />

launched an appeal following the<br />

earthquakes in Southern Turkey and<br />

Northern Syria. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s around the world<br />

have rallied to support those affected.<br />

(Image: Turkish Red Crescent)<br />

Read more: p12-13<br />

22-23 MEET: JOHN BRODIE<br />

CEO of Scotmid and chair of the Scottish<br />

Retail <strong>Co</strong>nsortium<br />


<strong>Co</strong>nsumer co-<strong>op</strong>s: Rethinking economic<br />

value and communication<br />


crisis to co-<strong>op</strong>eration: changemakers in<br />

action<br />


Delegates discuss the role of consumer<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s in shaping a better world<br />


Climate crisis: ‘Buy Fairtrade to protect the<br />

world’s most p<strong>op</strong>ular foods’<br />


US co-<strong>op</strong>s celebrate the achievements<br />

and contributions of African Americans<br />


Taking the theme ‘DigitALL: innovation<br />

and technology for gender equality<br />


‘Despite the crucial role they play, waste<br />

pickers receive the lowest payments in<br />

the value chain’<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK’s new secretary on her<br />

role at the UK’s apex body<br />


Looking at ways co-<strong>op</strong>s ‘can help embed<br />

circular economy practices’<br />

46-47 UN’S 2030 AGENDA<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s and corporations – is there room<br />

for more collaboration?<br />

48-49 THESE HOUSES ARE OURS Interview<br />

with Andrew Bibby: Learning from the<br />

legacy of co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing<br />


5-11 UK news<br />

12-21 Global news<br />

24 Letters<br />

50 Events<br />

4 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

NEWS<br />


£2.2m fund launched to support community businesses across the UK<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK is to deliver a £2.2m<br />

investment in the community business<br />

sector, targeted at harder-to-reach and<br />

deprived areas.<br />

The funding has been granted by social<br />

investment body Access to help pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

use community shares to save local assets<br />

or set up vital services. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

and <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Finance (CCF) and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares ICOF will also help to<br />

deliver the scheme.<br />

The goal is to help communities access<br />

business devel<strong>op</strong>ment support, grants,<br />

equity and loan finance. The scheme will<br />

be administered through the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Shares Booster Fund, managed by<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK. Priorities include<br />

expanding the reach of community shares<br />

to communities which are more diverse,<br />

younger or marginalised.<br />

John Dawson, head of market<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK’s<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares Unit, said: “Through<br />

this new investment we will be working<br />

closely with our partners CCF and<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Shares ICOF who will also<br />

be a match investor and will offer the<br />

<strong>op</strong>tion to underwrite individuals buying<br />

community shares over a 12-month period.<br />

CCF will also offer loan finance to Booster<br />

applicants if this is needed.”<br />

According to the CSU’s <strong>2023</strong> report,<br />

to date 130,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le have invested<br />

£210m in 539 community businesses and<br />

organisations through 709 share offers.<br />

Examples include Heptonstall<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Assets, formed to save a<br />

village post office in West Yorkshire. Local<br />

resident Lindsay Smith said: “You realise<br />

what a lifeline it is. It functions very<br />

centrally in the little community that is<br />

Heptonstall. A sh<strong>op</strong> facility like that is key<br />

for the future of the community.”<br />

The Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford,<br />

a much-loved independent cinema,<br />

received support through the Booster<br />

Fund to launch a share offer which, by<br />

keeping share prices low, meant a wider<br />

range of pe<strong>op</strong>le could invest.<br />

Former committee member Pat O’Shea<br />

said: “This cinema is an institution. It’s a<br />

facility pe<strong>op</strong>le love and it’s important to<br />

the community. The minimum investment<br />

was £50 – lowered to £30 for young<br />

p Friends of the Joiners Arms, who saved their LGBTQ space (Image: Queer Garden)<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le and local residents. It meant lots<br />

of pe<strong>op</strong>le put in small amounts, which is<br />

why we’ve got so many members; it’s a<br />

broad, inclusive base.”<br />

And the Joiners Arms pub, an LGBTQ<br />

space in Tower Hamlets, East London,<br />

was saved by regulars after it was closed<br />

for redevel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

Amy Roberts, chair of Friends of<br />

The Joiners Arms, said: “We started a<br />

campaign shouting loudly about how<br />

important LGBTQ spaces are – and how<br />

losing these spaces is detrimental to a<br />

marginalised community. The Joiners<br />

Arms wasn’t just a pub, it was a vital hub<br />

for the LGBTQ community.”<br />

CCF’s business devel<strong>op</strong>ment manager,<br />

Tim <strong>Co</strong>omer, said: “We are keen that the<br />

combination of devel<strong>op</strong>ment support and<br />

investment will unlock the potential for<br />

The Sound Pound consortium of Greater<br />

Manchester credit unions has launched a<br />

new loan product with the backing of the<br />

regional combined authority.<br />

It says the Sound Pound loan provides<br />

a “safe solution’ for local pe<strong>op</strong>le who are<br />

experiencing squeezed finances as the<br />

cost of living soars. The loan is available<br />

for any amount between £200 and £1,000,<br />

for anyone struggling financially, who is<br />

new to credit unions.<br />

Sheenagh Young, chair of Sound Pound<br />

and CEO of South Manchester Credit<br />

Union, said: “There are many pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

disadvantaged and under-represented<br />

communities to take ownership of local<br />

assets and control of enterprises that<br />

make their lives better.”<br />

Tim Davies-Pugh, CEO at Power to<br />

Change, added: “We know that when<br />

buildings and services are owned and<br />

run by the community they serve we see<br />

the creation of community wealth with<br />

resources, jobs and money staying local,<br />

helping to grow and build economically<br />

resilient places.<br />

“Power to Change has always<br />

recognised the potential and impact of<br />

community shares and what they can do<br />

for communities. We are delighted Access<br />

have also recognised the value of the<br />

programme – this additional investment<br />

will allow Booster to unlock power in<br />

more communities.”<br />

Sound Pound CUs launch cost of living loan<br />

living in our communities who usually get<br />

by okay but are now experiencing a real<br />

squeeze and are unsure where to turn.<br />

“Our new Sound Pound loan is our<br />

response to help local pe<strong>op</strong>le get back on<br />

track and avoid any long term impacts of<br />

inflation and rising household costs.”<br />

Regional mayor Andy Burnham said:<br />

“Credit unions have a key role to play<br />

in the financial crisis. I’m delighted to<br />

see them come together across Greater<br />

Manchester to provide a local and ethical<br />

alternative to the high-interest payday<br />

loan companies and loan sharks.”<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 5


Bright Future <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> reappoints Causeway to run modern slavery programme<br />

Bright Future <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, formed in 2020 to<br />

help fast-track survivors of modern slavery<br />

into stable, high quality employment,<br />

has reappointed anti-slavery charity<br />

Causeway to run its National Matching<br />

Service for three more years.<br />

In the UK, official estimates say there<br />

are 10,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le in forced labour – in<br />

places such as car washes, brothels, nail<br />

bars and restaurants – although many<br />

campaigners say the figure is much higher.<br />

To help tackle the crisis, the original<br />

Bright Future scheme was created by<br />

Causeway and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group in 2017 as a<br />

way of supporting survivors of modern<br />

slavery through a paid work experience<br />

scheme with the chance of permanent<br />

employment. It was designed to help<br />

vulnerable pe<strong>op</strong>le avoid the barriers that<br />

made them nervous about re-joining<br />

the workforce, such as lengthy job<br />

applications or formal interviews.<br />

Bright Future then devel<strong>op</strong>ed into an<br />

independent co-<strong>op</strong>erative in 2020 and<br />

appointed Causeway to run its National<br />

Matching System (NMS) which helps place<br />

candidates with prospective employers.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> has 33 members. These<br />

include 20 organisations in the<br />

programme who refer their service<br />

users, and 13 business members offering<br />

employment <strong>op</strong>portunities, from several<br />

sectors. Businesses taking part include the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group, Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, Currys,<br />

Pilgrims, Balfour Beatty and Morrisons.<br />

Bright Future’s board is made up of<br />

volunteers from some of these members.<br />

To date 77 pe<strong>op</strong>le have found stable work<br />

through Bright Future. An <strong>op</strong>en tender<br />

that ended on 23 January saw Causeway<br />

reappointed to run the NMS at the heart<br />

of the co-<strong>op</strong>’s <strong>op</strong>erations until April 2026.<br />

Speaking on behalf of Bright Future<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, Alison Scowen said: “The quality<br />

of submissions received to run the NMS<br />

was high. It was encouraging to speak<br />

to a number of organisations who really<br />

understood what we’re trying to achieve<br />

and wanted to get involved. We’d like<br />

to thank everyone who took the time to<br />

submit a pr<strong>op</strong>osal.<br />

“Over the coming years we’ll be<br />

looking to deliver more placements, more<br />

efficiently and for more survivors. We’ll<br />

also look to encourage survivors who<br />

have completed a Bright Future <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

placement to get involved in the running<br />

of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative.”<br />

Pete Westall, chair of Bright Future,<br />

added: “The huge impact this co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

has had with facilitating employment for<br />

survivors of modern slavery has been built<br />

on the engagement of businesses; referral<br />

partners, the survivors themselves, and<br />

importantly with the NMS.<br />

“Causeway have provided this service to<br />

Bright Future <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> since June 2020. I am<br />

delighted that they have been re-appointed,<br />

following a robust and thorough <strong>op</strong>en<br />

tender process, to continue to provide this<br />

service for the next three years. The board<br />

looks forward to working with them, and<br />

all our members, to continue to provide<br />

help and <strong>op</strong>portunity to give those in need<br />

the chance to rebuild their lives.”<br />

Causeway’s Bright Future <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

manager Mischa Macaskill said: “I am<br />

so thankful that the board has trusted<br />

Causeway and believes in our vision for<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>. We are extremely proud of<br />

the 77 placements we have supported<br />

candidates through and are looking<br />

forward to the growth of the programme.<br />

“This is a very exciting time as we<br />

continue to diversify the roles on offer<br />

to candidates. As more businesses get<br />

involved in becoming Bright Future<br />

employers it means that survivors get<br />

more choices in their accessible route to<br />

employment.”<br />

Meanwhile, all seven Labour/<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Party police and crime commissioners in<br />

England and Wales have written to home<br />

secretary Suella Braverman, calling on her<br />

to appoint an independent anti-slavery<br />

commissioner.<br />

In the letter, Alun Michael, Emily<br />

Spurrell, Jeff Cuthbert, Kim McGuinness,<br />

Andy Dunbobbin, Joy Allen and Alan<br />

Billings say the post should be filled to<br />

help police forces and authorities around<br />

the country tackle modern slavery.<br />

“Government is dragging its feet,”<br />

wrote Spurrell, PCC for Merseyside, in a<br />

post on the Party website. “Despite an<br />

obligation under the Modern Slavery Act ...<br />

the home secretary has left the post vacant<br />

since April 2022.<br />

“It is dismaying and frustrating that<br />

Suella Braverman has refused to appoint<br />

to the post, and there seems precious little<br />

movement in terms of recruitment.”<br />

Spurrell said police had made great<br />

strides in protecting survivors and<br />

investigating crimes, but a dedicated<br />

commissioner would aid further<br />

prevention, detection, investigation<br />

and prosecution. “It is almost as if the<br />

government is backpedalling on its<br />

previous ironclad commitment to tackle<br />

modern slavery,” she added.<br />

6 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

RETAIL<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation runs second round of its climate fund<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Foundation ran the second<br />

round of its £3.5m Carbon Innovation<br />

Fund (CIF) in February.<br />

As it selects applicants, the Foundation –<br />

the charitable arm of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group,<br />

a partner on the fund – will focus on<br />

projects to reduce reliance on soy-based<br />

animal feed and synthetic fertilisers in<br />

agriculture.<br />

Grants of £75,000 to £200,000 are<br />

available to organisations through the<br />

fund, which the Foundation says builds<br />

on its plan to create more sustainable<br />

communities. Between five and 10 grants<br />

are expected to be awarded.<br />

Round one of the fund saw the<br />

partnership give £1.4m to organisations<br />

working to decrease carbon emissions<br />

from the food, farming and aquaculture<br />

industries.<br />

CIF is the largest partnership of its<br />

kind between the Group and its charity.<br />

It is funded by donations from the sale of<br />

compostable carrier bags in the Group’s<br />

stores, and the Foundation’s own funds.<br />

Nick Crofts, CEO of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Foundation, said: “The Carbon Innovation<br />

Fund is our largest ever partnership with<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and it truly embodies our shared<br />

commitment of co-<strong>op</strong>erating for a fairer<br />

world. This second round of funding will<br />

help build more sustainable communities<br />

by reducing the environmental impact of<br />

the soy industry and synthetic fertilisers.”<br />

Adele Balmforth, director of pr<strong>op</strong>ositions<br />

at the Group, said: “<strong>Co</strong>llaboration is key to<br />

unlocking the carbon reductions that are<br />

needed to protect our planet, which is why<br />

the Carbon Innovation Fund is so integral<br />

in our ambitious pathway to Net Zero.”<br />

Meanwhile, the Group is scrapping<br />

best-before dates on more than 150 lines<br />

of fresh fruit in a bid to cut food waste and<br />

help sh<strong>op</strong>pers with their grocery budgets.<br />

The change affects all the retailer’s fresh<br />

produce, with the exception of a small<br />

number of the more perishable products,<br />

or where it can be harder to use visual<br />

cues and judgment to assess the condition<br />

of a product.<br />

Product life testing by Wrap – a<br />

climate action NGO which works with<br />

governments and businesses around the<br />

world to improve the use of resources –<br />

shows that fruit and veg can be good to<br />

eat well beyond the best before date when<br />

stored in <strong>op</strong>timal conditions.<br />

The average family throws out an<br />

estimated £700 worth of good food a year,<br />

says Wrap, and households account for<br />

around 70% of UK food waste. It is h<strong>op</strong>ed<br />

the removal of best-before dates can<br />

help tackle this problem – alongside onpack<br />

guidance to highlight the <strong>op</strong>timum<br />

storage conditions, another measure<br />

being introduced by the Group.<br />

Adele Balmforth, pr<strong>op</strong>ositions director at<br />

the Group, said: “As we face into a climate,<br />

environmental and cost-of-living crisis we<br />

are committed to helping our customers<br />

cut food waste and save money.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group will contest £450m legal claim over Somerfiel sale<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group says it will contest a<br />

£450m legal claim from the liquidators of<br />

The Food Retailer Operations Ltd, relating<br />

to the Somerfield chain of supermarkets.<br />

The Group purchased Somerfield in<br />

2009 for £1.565bn, and sold it in 2016 to<br />

The Food Retailer Group Limited, part of<br />

retail investor Hilco’s group.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> strongly disputes both liability<br />

and quantum of the claim and the claim<br />

will be vigorously defended,” a statement<br />

from the Group said.<br />

The retailer announced it was facing the<br />

claim in an announcement to the stock<br />

exchange. It said: “The Group, and certain<br />

of its subsidiaries (<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group<br />

Food Limited, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Foodstores<br />

Limited and Rochpion Pr<strong>op</strong>erties (4) LLP)<br />

are aware that a claim has been issued<br />

by the liquidators of The Food Retailer<br />

Operations Limited in connection with<br />

transactions which took place in 2015<br />

and 2016 relating to the Somerfield<br />

supermarket business acquired by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

in 2009.”<br />

The amount claimed is more than £450m,<br />

the Group added, plus “unquantified<br />

amounts of interest and costs”.<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 7


Credit union lending reaches record levels as UK borrowing costs rise<br />

Figures from the Bank of England show<br />

that credit unions are lending record sums<br />

to UK customers, as the cost of borrowing<br />

continues to rise.<br />

Analysis of the Bank figures for the third<br />

quarter of 2022 by Freedom Finance shows<br />

that total borrowing reached £1.92bn – up<br />

£255m (15%) on the same quarter in 2021,<br />

and up £51m from the previous quarter.<br />

The UK credit union sector has 1.94<br />

million members, more than 38,000<br />

higher that the same period in 2021, the<br />

latest Freedom Finance Credit Monitor<br />

adds.<br />

Average household quoted rates on<br />

credit cards hit 22.46%, their highest<br />

levels since 1998, while personal loans<br />

posted their highest quarterly increase of<br />

all time in Q4 2022.<br />

Freedom Finance CEO Emma Steeley<br />

said: “Credit unions play a critical role in<br />

plugging this gap but they remain poorly<br />

known and understood.<br />

“This is why it is so important that the<br />

industry continues to beat the drum for all<br />

providers – including credit unions – who<br />

are able to broaden access to the credit<br />

market and help more pe<strong>op</strong>le benefit from<br />

more products which are suitable for their<br />

circumstances.”’<br />

Robert Kelly, CEO of the Association<br />

of British Credit Unions (Abcul) said<br />

evidence of the growth of the sector was<br />

“encouraging”.<br />

“Our sector continues to gather pace<br />

as more pe<strong>op</strong>le from all walks of life trust<br />

credit unions,” he added. “Credit unions<br />

offer safe savings and access to affordable<br />

and ethical credit facilities alongside<br />

access to a range of associated products<br />

and services, however they are bound by<br />

legislative framework that was originally<br />

implemented in 1979.”<br />

Kelly said Abcul has been “lobbying<br />

hard behind the scenes for many years”<br />

with legislators and regulators for a major<br />

reform of the Credit Union Act 1979, and<br />

in result, “a more enabling legislative<br />

framework will be delivered by April/May<br />

<strong>2023</strong>”.<br />

New legislation – announced at last<br />

year’s Abcul conference by Treasury<br />

minister John Glen – will give credit<br />

unions the <strong>op</strong>portunity to provide car<br />

finance under Hire Purchase (HP)/<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nditional Sale/PCP arrangements, and<br />

general insurance products and services.<br />

This will bring “a hugely exciting time<br />

for the credit union sector”, said Kelly,<br />

enhancing its “ability to serve many more<br />

consumers across the country and to serve<br />

a wider share of the financial needs of<br />

households and communities”.<br />


Save Our Bank customer union launches campaign fundraiser<br />

Save Our Bank – a union of customers of<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Bank – has launched a<br />

crowd funder to support its campaign to<br />

return the bank to co-<strong>op</strong> ownership.<br />

The customer union – itself a co-<strong>op</strong> –<br />

also wants the funds to grow its<br />

membership and to continue its campaign<br />

for wider banking reform.<br />

Formed by a group of customers in 2013<br />

when the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank entered its financial<br />

crisis, Save Our Bank originally worked to<br />

preserve the organisation’s ethical stance.<br />

It is now looking to extend its work with<br />

a crowd funder for its next 10-year vision.<br />

In terms of restoring the bank to<br />

customer ownership, Save Our Bank said:<br />

“We need to do detailed research and<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment to help us create a fund to<br />

acquire at least some shares collectively in<br />

the bank. We think this might also create<br />

a model to build co-<strong>op</strong> customer stakes in<br />

businesses everywhere.”<br />

Save Our Bank says it has already<br />

raised £4,500 towards this project<br />

from three UK retail co-<strong>op</strong>s – Central<br />

England, Midcounties and Scotmid, with<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK offering support in<br />

communicating its plan.<br />

It is also looking to grow its own base.<br />

“Although we have around 1,200 paying<br />

members, with the bank’s current 3.1<br />

million retail customers, we think we<br />

could be much bigger. This will need us<br />

to invest in more capacity, to work with<br />

the bank, and to explore a new name now<br />

that its ethics are secure. It will also help<br />

us become more resilient as some of our<br />

older members retire.”<br />

In terms of its wider banking campaign,<br />

it said: “If we can continue to help [the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Bank] lead on ethics ... we h<strong>op</strong>e to use<br />

our learnings to influence participation<br />

and ethics systematically in the wider<br />

mainstream banking sector too.”<br />

Shaun Fensom from Save our Bank told<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong>: “If we are going to build a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> stake in the bank we need to identify<br />

the best way to do this, and that’s a key<br />

aim for the crowd funder. We’re really<br />

excited to be moving on to this next phase.<br />

“We think there’s real potential to<br />

replicate this model in other businesses. I<br />

really like the idea of ‘reversing’ a co-<strong>op</strong><br />

into a shareholder-owned business.”<br />

The organisation has membership<br />

income but says it needs another £18,000<br />

to fund its campaign work.<br />

The crowdfunder runs until 10 May and<br />

Save Our Bank says a £15 donation from<br />

each of its members would see it make the<br />

full target. More details at bit.ly/3KvD6OT<br />

8 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>


Barefoot training<br />

programme relaunched<br />

to tackle need for co-<strong>op</strong><br />

business advisors<br />

Applications are <strong>op</strong>en for the Barefoot<br />

training programme, set up to address the<br />

lack of specialist business advisors for the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> and community-owned sectors.<br />

With sessions led by co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

consortium <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Culture, the course will<br />

this year be delivered in partnership with co<strong>op</strong><br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment organisation Stir To Action.<br />

The six-month course, aimed at co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

practitioners who want skills as<br />

democratic business advisors, includes<br />

an overview of co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment, the<br />

elements to consider as a co-<strong>op</strong> and<br />

community business advisor, and skills<br />

and strategies for working with new and<br />

existing co-<strong>op</strong>s and community businesses.<br />

Since 2020, Barefoot has trained over 65<br />

advisors, who are now delivering support<br />

to new and existing co-<strong>op</strong>s and community<br />

businesses. Some graduates have gone<br />

on to establish new business support<br />

providers, such as Pe<strong>op</strong>le Support <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

The next round of the programme will<br />

include networking events for alumni.<br />

Stir to Action says the democratic<br />

business sector has a significant lack<br />

of advisors, and warns it has not taken<br />

advantage of the experience co-<strong>op</strong><br />

practitioners have to offer – across a variety<br />

of backgrounds including tech, food and<br />

the creative industries.<br />

“We’re really excited to be relaunching<br />

Barefoot,” said Stir to Action’s Abby<br />

Gordon-Farleigh, “as more interest in<br />

worker and community ownership turns<br />

into new commitments from the local to<br />

the national level. We’re currently building<br />

partnerships with local government and<br />

infrastructure bodies in the third sector<br />

who could potentially invest in their<br />

members to be active as advisors.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Culture said that training up more<br />

advisors with relevant lived experience<br />

must be part of a wider strategic plan,<br />

adding: “Stir to Action are perfectly placed<br />

to enable Barefoot to reach its full potential,<br />

and grow the co-<strong>op</strong> and community<br />

business sector in the process.”<br />

Bonnie Hewson of Power to Change said:<br />

“Barefoot is the common-sense solution<br />

to scaling up co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment. The<br />

advisors emerging from the programme<br />

are passionate and experienced co-<strong>op</strong><br />

practitioners who are skilled up and<br />

connected to a wide-reaching network of<br />

experts to support more co-<strong>op</strong>s to emerge.<br />

“The course leaders are extremely<br />

experienced trainers on the cutting edge of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment themselves, and who are<br />

well placed to upskill the next generation of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment advisors. If we want to<br />

grow the new economy we have to support<br />

the growth of appr<strong>op</strong>riate business support<br />

infrastructure, and Barefoot is an important<br />

piece of the puzzle.”<br />

The course starts on 25 April – for<br />

more details and application form,<br />

visit: stirtoaction.com/barefoot<br />


Media co-<strong>op</strong>s welcome MPs’ call for local journalism support<br />

More support is needed to ensure the<br />

sustainability of the UK’s local news, MPs<br />

say in a parliamentary committee report.<br />

A number of co-<strong>op</strong>s and community<br />

businesses, including the Bristol Cable<br />

and Independent Media Association, gave<br />

evidence to the Department for Culture,<br />

Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Sustainability<br />

of local journalism inquiry last May.<br />

The fall in print advertising has led<br />

to the closure of more than 320 local<br />

titles between 2009 and 2019. The DCMS<br />

report concludes that some of the larger<br />

publishers’ approaches to local news in<br />

the face of these challenges “appear to be<br />

compromising the quality [of] the local<br />

journalism produced by their titles.”<br />

The report calls on the government<br />

to provide longer-term funding for<br />

public interest news in the local sector,<br />

look at ways to make it easier for local<br />

public interest news to access charitable<br />

donations, and take steps to ensure that<br />

support that is made available to publishers<br />

is fairly distributed. It also wants a level<br />

playing field between local news services<br />

and large digital platforms such as Google.<br />

The report said there are “many new<br />

local news publishers with a variety of<br />

innovative business models”. But one<br />

of these, the member-owned Bristol<br />

Cable, warned the inquiry it faces “major<br />

challenges to financial sustainability”.<br />

It added: “The very act of survival is<br />

success in itself. This is particularly the<br />

case in local journalism, where limitations<br />

on scale due to potential audience or<br />

supporter markets are more pertinent.”<br />

Following the release of the report, the<br />

Cable’s Eliz Mizon said: “It’s crucial that<br />

the government now takes seriously the<br />

committee’s several recommendations,<br />

prioritising financial and structural<br />

support for local journalism in the next<br />

few years to avoid a worsening of the crisis<br />

of democracy.<br />

“We know that our journalism has<br />

a positive impact, but we’re a small<br />

organisation with limited resources. If<br />

there was a public interest news fund to<br />

support organisations like the Bristol<br />

Cable, we could do so much more for the<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le of Bristol and beyond.”<br />

The Independent Media Association<br />

(IMA), a co-<strong>op</strong> representing more that<br />

50 titles including the Bristol Cable,<br />

said: “The government must listen to<br />

this important report, and ensure that<br />

future funding support for the industry<br />

is targeted at independent and regulated<br />

news titles which have high standards and<br />

produce quality, credible journalism.”<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 9

ENERGY<br />

OVO pledges support<br />

for community energy<br />

in push for net zero<br />

OVO has joined <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy<br />

England’s membership as a principal<br />

supporter, saying it will offer enhanced<br />

levels of support for community-led<br />

renewable energy projects.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy England (CEE)<br />

represents 310 community energy<br />

businesses across England. Through its<br />

principal supporter role, OVO aims to<br />

help projects secure additional revenue,<br />

by providing access to subsidy-free power<br />

purchase agreements (PPAs), which could<br />

make the difference between renewable<br />

energy devel<strong>op</strong>ments going ahead or not.<br />

OVO was the first supplier to commit<br />

funding to specifically support subsidyfree<br />

generation, designed to incentivise<br />

small-scale, independent wind and solar<br />

farms by offering an above-market price<br />

for the electricity they generate.<br />

CEE says the initiative’s aim is to “create<br />

a thriving market that will directly drive<br />

new investment in renewable assets in the<br />

UK, supporting the UK’s net zero goals”.<br />

The announcement follows the news<br />

of two deals to power thousands of<br />

Energy co-<strong>op</strong> to join<br />

Leicestershire <strong>Co</strong>uncil’s<br />

low carbon study<br />

A community energy project is joining<br />

partnership led by Leicestershire <strong>Co</strong>unty<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil to devel<strong>op</strong> plans to hit the area’s<br />

2045 net zero target.<br />

Green Fox <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

has joined national consultancy Energy<br />

Systems Catapult in the Leicestershire<br />

CAN (<strong>Co</strong>llaboration to Accelerate Net<br />

Zero) feasibility study, led by the council.<br />

The project will work alongside the<br />

county’s district and borough councils,<br />

Leicester City <strong>Co</strong>uncil and the Leicester<br />

and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership.<br />

Green Fox was launched by locals in<br />

Leicestershire to facilitate communityowned<br />

renewable and low carbon<br />

technology in the area. So far it has set up<br />

biomass energy systems in two schools<br />

and helped to devel<strong>op</strong> a solar farm.<br />

homes. Last month, OVO signed two<br />

PPAs with new subsidy free onshore wind<br />

generators. It has also signed contracts to<br />

buy renewable electricity from Genatec’s<br />

Pond Farm Wind project and Ambition<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy CIC.<br />

Stephen Harris, VP of Energy, OVO<br />

Energy, said: “We’re committed to<br />

supporting investment in renewable<br />

energy generation and community<br />

projects across the UK. I am delighted<br />

to partner with CEE and support new<br />

independent renewable generation,<br />

supporting the UK’s net zero goals and<br />

removing our reliance on a fossil fuel<br />

dominated energy system.”<br />

p A Green Fox biomass installation<br />

Ben Dodd, director of Green Fox, said:<br />

“Working innovatively with partners<br />

in this way means we can accelerate<br />

community-based net zero delivery,<br />

ensuring local pe<strong>op</strong>le play a meaningful<br />

and active part in the decarbonisation of<br />

Leicestershire.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncillor Blake Pain, the cabinet<br />

member for the environment and green<br />

Philip <strong>Co</strong>ventry, head of <strong>op</strong>erations<br />

at CEE, said: ”We’re looking forward<br />

to helping OVO with their initiatives<br />

to support the growth of community<br />

energy by providing the sector with<br />

more investment and enhanced levels<br />

of support. We are confident that OVO’s<br />

engagement with community energy<br />

will facilitate new <strong>op</strong>portunities that will<br />

benefit the whole sector and its growth.”<br />

Meanwhile, 16,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le have<br />

reserved space to buy shares in Ripple<br />

Energy’s third consumer-owned energy<br />

project. This follows Ripple’s first partner,<br />

Graig Fatha wind turbine in Wales, and an<br />

eight-turbine site being built in Ayrshire.<br />

agenda, said: The full council approved<br />

our Net Zero Strategy and Action Plan at<br />

the end of last year. The funding allows us<br />

to take it to the next level by devel<strong>op</strong>ing<br />

a model to allow all partners to work<br />

together and remove the barriers to deliver<br />

our net zero aims.”<br />

Innovate UK, a non-departmental public<br />

body sponsored by the Department for<br />

Science, Innovation and Technology, says<br />

its overall national Net Zero programme<br />

focuses on overcoming ‘non-technical’ or<br />

social systemic barriers such as finance,<br />

governance, regulation and engagement.<br />

Innovate UK’s executive director for net<br />

zero Mike Biddle said: “Local authorities<br />

have a key role to play in addressing up<br />

to 30% of our carbon emissions, and even<br />

more through their influence on planning<br />

and policy decisions.”<br />

Projects supported by Innovate UK<br />

include decarbonising transport, housing<br />

retrofit, and local energy planning.<br />

10 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>


Glasgow housing co-<strong>op</strong> to<br />

build 44 affordable homes<br />

A co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing provider plans to<br />

build 44 social rent homes on the site of a<br />

former primary school in Pollok, Glasgow.<br />

Glasgow City <strong>Co</strong>uncil approved<br />

the disposal of the site of the former<br />

Gowanbank Primary School in Pollok<br />

to Rosehill Housing <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative on 2<br />

February.<br />

Rosehill will build a mixture of flats and<br />

houses on the 2.14 hectares site, close to<br />

the Silverburn sh<strong>op</strong>ping centre and bus<br />

and train stations.<br />

Originally set up in 1987 as one of an<br />

original six pilot fully mutual housing co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

in Scotland, Rosehill is now the main<br />

registered social landlord in the Pollok<br />

area, renting over 1,000 pr<strong>op</strong>erties.<br />

Rosehill’s director Geri Mogan told <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>News</strong>: “Rosehill is the main community<br />

based social landlord in Pollok with<br />

over 35 years of providing homes and<br />

services. Rosehill is pleased to have the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to provide more good quality<br />

and affordable homes which are much<br />

needed in the area and to contribute to the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil’s affordable housing targets.”<br />

Rosehill will pay £570,000 for the<br />

cleared and vacant site. The Gowanbank<br />

Primary School buildings were closed and<br />

demolished in 2018.<br />

Glasgow City <strong>Co</strong>uncil says the offmarket<br />

disposal is part of its strategic<br />

housing objectives policy.<br />

Cllr Ruairi Kelly, convener for<br />

Neighbourhoods Services and Assets at<br />

Glasgow City <strong>Co</strong>uncil, said: “This disposal<br />

benefits the city in a number of ways – not<br />

only raising public funds in a challenging<br />

financial climate, but allowing the<br />

building of much-needed new flats and<br />

houses for social rent that will help to<br />

deliver our ambitious affordable housing<br />

targets.”<br />

Scotmid <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> to fund a year’s training for lifeboat crew<br />

Scotmid <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has pledged a £21,000<br />

donation to the Royal National Lifeboat<br />

Institution (RNLI), which will fund a full<br />

year of training for 15 volunteer crew.<br />

The money will support one member<br />

of crew at each of the 15 lifeboat stations<br />

in Scotland that are within five miles of a<br />

Scotmid or Semichem store.<br />

Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> extends member discount prices<br />

After reducing prices on more than 50<br />

products for members at the end of 2022,<br />

Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has extended the offer to<br />

over 100 items.<br />

The retail society says this ranges from<br />

key essentials like bread and milk to pet<br />

food and toiletries. For example, a fourpint<br />

carton of milk is priced at £1.50 for<br />

members, six medium free-range eggs are<br />

£1, and a loaf of bread is 75p.<br />

Oxfordshire <strong>Co</strong>uncil gives fi ancial backing to bus co-<strong>op</strong><br />

A rural bus route <strong>op</strong>erated by a community<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> has been saved with cash from<br />

Oxfordshire <strong>Co</strong>unty <strong>Co</strong>uncil after it<br />

became financially unviable.<br />

The 210 bus provides a vital link<br />

between the town of Witney and its<br />

surrounding villages.<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> backs community projects to cut crime<br />

As part of its efforts to tackle crime,<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is sharing £135,000 of<br />

funding among 18 projects which work to<br />

cut reoffending rates.<br />

This follows an initial investment of<br />

£100,000 by the retail society in 2020,<br />

which it says has led to more than 1,300<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le being supported – including<br />

offenders and those at risk of offending.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group <strong>op</strong>ens new round of Apiary accelerator<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group has launched a second<br />

round of its Apiary business support<br />

scheme for small-scale suppliers. Last<br />

year’s <strong>op</strong>ening round saw six new food<br />

brands hit the Group’s shelves after<br />

receiving tailored support and mentoring.<br />

This included advice on all aspects of<br />

the product journey, consumer insight,<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong>s, technical hints and tips and<br />

access to the Group’s buying teams.<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 11



<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

mobilise to support<br />

communities hit by<br />

twin earthquakes<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s around the world have rallied<br />

to support those affected by the twin 7.8<br />

and 7.7 earthquakes that struck Southern<br />

Turkey and Northern Syria on 7 February.<br />

Nearly 25,000 buildings have collapsed<br />

or were badly damaged as a result of the<br />

quake, according to Turkish officials. As<br />

of 21 February, the confirmed death toll<br />

for Turkey and Syria was nearing 50,000,<br />

with the number likely to increase. It is<br />

estimated that over 13.5 million pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

have been affected by the disaster.<br />

The Federation of Agricultural Credit<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives of Turkey (Tarimkredi) was<br />

quick to step in to support its members<br />

and communities.<br />

“We are safe, but we are not well as<br />

millions of pe<strong>op</strong>le have been affected”<br />

said Burçak Akansel, corporate<br />

communications specialist. “It is such a<br />

huge disaster affecting 10 provinces. The<br />

situation is very severe due to the harsh<br />

weather conditions, blocked roads and<br />

infrastructure, which makes it even harder<br />

for the aid materials to be dispatched to<br />

and the search and rescue teams to reach<br />

the quake-affected zones.<br />

“As Agricultural Credit <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

of Turkey, we have more than 1,600 co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

all around the country; 150<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives with 80,000 members are in<br />

these 10 provinces hit by the earthquakes,<br />

half of which have been damaged, to the<br />

best of our knowledge. We can neither tell<br />

the exact number nor how much damage<br />

has been caused at the moment.<br />

“We also have co-<strong>op</strong> supermarkets<br />

selling co-<strong>op</strong> products. We sent 14 trucks<br />

filled with food and hygiene products<br />

working in collaboration with AFAD (the<br />

Disaster and Emergency Management<br />

Authority). We are working on a debt relief<br />

programme for our members.”<br />

Before sending 14 trucks to the area,<br />

Tarimkredi distributed 50 truckloads of<br />

goods from its warehouses in the region,<br />

and is raising money for the earthquake<br />

victims via its network of employees.<br />

p Inogar <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> members helping in the recovery efforts<br />

And through its mining subsidiary<br />

Gübretaş Maden, the co-<strong>op</strong> sent a team<br />

of miners trained in search and rescue to<br />

provide support and logistical assistance.<br />

“Last but not least, our co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and personnel still do their best to serve<br />

our members by providing their basic<br />

needs such as animal feed free of charge.<br />

We are working on initiatives to postpone<br />

and restructure their debts, as well,”<br />

added Akansel.<br />

Other Turkish co-<strong>op</strong>s are fundraising<br />

to support those affected, including Genc<br />

Isi Ko<strong>op</strong>eratif (Youth Deal <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative)<br />

in Izmir, Turkey. “In Turkey, 14% of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and 11% of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

members are in the 10 provinces affected<br />

by the earthquake,” said Berkin Şafak<br />

Şener, a member of the co-<strong>op</strong>. “Two of<br />

our members were planning to travel to<br />

Şanlıurfa to deliver training next week.<br />

“Our co-<strong>op</strong>erative is also a member of<br />

the New Generation <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Society<br />

which brings together co-<strong>op</strong>eratives from<br />

the disaster-affected region. .<br />

“The initial news reveals that many<br />

fellow co-<strong>op</strong>erators lost their lives,<br />

and many others seek shelter together<br />

with their families. They are deprived<br />

of basic human needs such as food,<br />

medicine, healthcare, water, sanitation<br />

and transport. The co-<strong>op</strong>erative economy<br />

is inevitably deeply affected by this<br />

disaster. We plan to first do our best to<br />

facilitate the delivery of search, rescue<br />

and humanitarian assistance <strong>op</strong>erations.<br />

In the medium term, we will support our<br />

fellow co-<strong>op</strong>erators and local communities<br />

to recover and build back better. This is<br />

certainly easier said than done. Hence, we<br />

need international solidarity and help.”<br />

Through its <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s4TR campaign, the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s h<strong>op</strong>es to mobilise the global co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement to help communities<br />

affected by the earthquake, added Şener.<br />

“We have always believed in co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

among co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

established long-standing communication<br />

with international bodies such as the<br />

ICA Youth <strong>Co</strong>mmittee, Young Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erators Network, US Federation<br />

of Worker <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives, and many<br />

others,” he said. “We thus wanted to<br />

leverage these connections in order to<br />

provide more and better support to local<br />

NGOs, co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and humanitarian<br />

organisations that work on the field as<br />

first-responders. We invite our fellow<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators from around the world to<br />

donate and share this aid appeal among<br />

your networks. The <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s4TR campaign<br />

can evolve into an act of solidarity which<br />

can help local co-<strong>op</strong>eratives recover and<br />

build back stronger.<br />

“We received immediate response<br />

from the co-<strong>op</strong>erative unions such as<br />

ICA, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives Eur<strong>op</strong>e, Democracy<br />

at Work Institute, Legaco<strong>op</strong>, Platform<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives <strong>Co</strong>nsortium, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK. We also heard back from Pangea<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative and Articolo 12 <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

from Italy, Superco<strong>op</strong> from Germany. This<br />

is just a short list of responses we received<br />

within 24 hours. These mean a lot to us<br />

and we really appreciate our fellow co<strong>op</strong>erators’<br />

support.”<br />

Needs Map <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>, a map-based data<br />

matching platform, and Inogar <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>,<br />

12 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

a social co-<strong>op</strong>erative, are also helping<br />

on the ground by matching pe<strong>op</strong>le who<br />

need shelter with available houses and<br />

distributing essential goods.<br />

The two co-<strong>op</strong>s have set up a fundraising<br />

page to support relief and recovery efforts<br />

in the affected region. The funding will<br />

help the two co-<strong>op</strong>s meet the immediate<br />

needs of those affected by distributing<br />

food packages, winter clothes, heaters,<br />

blankets, sanitary products, clean water<br />

and medicine, among others.<br />

Meanwhile, the UK’s Solidarity<br />

Economy Association is encouraging<br />

donations to support those affected in<br />

Northern Syria, where around 300,000<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le have been displaced.<br />

“Solidarity Economy Association<br />

encourages pe<strong>op</strong>le to donate to Heyva<br />

Sor (Kurdish Red Crescent) to support<br />

emergency response efforts as they are<br />

well placed to provide this support. We<br />

know that Heyva Sor will spend the<br />

money efficiently, quickly and effectively,<br />

with a bare minimum of overheads,” said<br />

SEA co-founder <strong>Co</strong>lm Massey.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK and UK retail co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

including the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group, Radstock,<br />

Midcounties and Scotmid are promoting<br />

a fundraising appeal launched by the<br />

Disasters Emergency <strong>Co</strong>mmittee (DEC).<br />

Customers and members can make online<br />

donations or donate by texting COOP to<br />

70787.<br />

“We are calling for co-<strong>op</strong>eratives across<br />

the movement to back the appeal by asking<br />

colleagues, members and customers<br />

where possible to donate,” <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK said in an email to members.<br />

The International <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Working<br />

Group (ICWG) is in touch with co-<strong>op</strong>s in<br />

Turkey and Syria to explore what extra<br />

support the UK movement can offer.<br />

Rose Marley, CEO of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK and chair of the ICWG, said: “The<br />

devastation of the earthquakes in<br />

southern Turkey and north west Syria<br />

is incomprehensible. We urge the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement to take collective<br />

action to support the DEC Appeal. It’s vital<br />

we get funds to pe<strong>op</strong>le on the ground who<br />

can help those in need.”<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group has made a £100,000<br />

donation to the Disasters Emergency<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmittee (DEC) to kickstart the appeal.<br />

Rebecca Birkbeck, the Group’s director<br />

of community and member participation,<br />

said: “Pe<strong>op</strong>le have been left without<br />

p Image: NeedsMap co-<strong>op</strong><br />

shelter in freezing winter conditions, with<br />

humanitarian needs expected to grow in<br />

the coming days.<br />

“We know our members and customers<br />

will want to help and we’re proud to be<br />

coming together with other co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

societies and the wider co-<strong>op</strong> movement,<br />

as well as our Nisa colleagues to<br />

collectively support this appeal.”<br />

Mutual insurer Simplyhealth has<br />

launched a fundraising appeal for DEC’s<br />

Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, and will<br />

match donations up to £75,000.<br />

On 10 February the Worldwide<br />

Foundation for Credit Unions, in<br />

partnership with World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit<br />

Unions (Woccu), announced the launch of<br />

its Turkish <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Earthquake Relief<br />

Fund to solicit donations in support of<br />

Turkey’s co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement.<br />

Woccu president and CEO Elissa<br />

McCarter LaBorde has reached out to the<br />

leaders of Tarimkredi and the heads of<br />

other organisations in Turkey to assess<br />

the greatest needs and to determine how<br />

the Relief Fund can be put to the best use.<br />

“As someone who managed postearthquake<br />

recovery programmes in<br />

Turkey earlier in my career, my heart goes<br />

out to the many communities that have<br />

been hit by this tragedy,” she said. “We are<br />

proud to play a part in helping mobilise<br />

the generosity of the global credit union<br />

movement to support those in need.”<br />

Woccu is also encouraging those<br />

who want to support the immediate<br />

humanitarian relief efforts in Turkey<br />

and Syria to donate to the International<br />

Blue Crescent Relief and Devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

Foundation (IBC) which is distributing<br />

hot meals, ready-to-eat food, blankets, aid<br />

kits, and is contributing to build shelters<br />

and tent cities.<br />

p Members of Inogar <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> assisting with the<br />

relief efforts (image: Inogar)<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and mutual insurers around the<br />

world have also confirmed donations.<br />

The International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative and<br />

Mutual Insurance Federation (Icmif)<br />

said Canadian Red Cross donations had<br />

come from Canadian insurers Beneva<br />

(CA$25,000), <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators ($50,000,)<br />

Desjardins Group ($60,000) and Gore<br />

Mutual ($25,000). In Denmark, the LB<br />

Foreningen association, which includes<br />

all 420,000 members of ICMIF member<br />

LB Forsikring, has donated DKK2m to<br />

the Red Cross. German co-<strong>op</strong> insurer R+V<br />

Versicherung has given €50,000 to the<br />

International Federation of Red Cross and<br />

Red Crescent Societies.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s in Israel are helping relief efforts<br />

in Turkey. The Arab-Jewish Center for<br />

Empowerment, Equality, and <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration<br />

– Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and<br />

Economic Devel<strong>op</strong>ment (Ajeec-Nisped)<br />

and Kibbutz co-<strong>op</strong> movement are working<br />

with NGO IsraAID and co-<strong>op</strong>erators in<br />

Turkey. “IsraAID partnered with Latet,<br />

Society for International Devel<strong>op</strong>ment,<br />

the Israeli Chamber of <strong>Co</strong>mmerce, and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s in Israel and Turkey to pack and<br />

distribute food, tents, warm blankets, and<br />

other humanitarian relief items. We are<br />

also sending essentials from our logistics<br />

hub in Tulcea, Romania,” said Mully Dor,<br />

chair of Ajeec-Nisped and board member<br />

of IsraAID.<br />

Links for donations<br />

DEC – bit.ly/3SpbooM<br />

Turkish <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Fund – bit.ly/3EtPYl0<br />

IBC – bit.ly/3lZcb3R<br />

Heyva Sor – bit.ly/3YW3upv<br />

AKUT Search and Rescue – bit.ly/3ErznOn<br />

UN Crisis Relief – bit.ly/3Zg7CjS<br />

AFAD – bit.ly/3IKsqL6<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 13

CHILE<br />

Electric co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

work to keep power on<br />

as wildfi es break out<br />

An outbreak of wildfires has caused havoc<br />

in Chile, with electric co-<strong>op</strong>s among<br />

organisations working to stay <strong>op</strong>erational<br />

through the disaster.<br />

The forest fires, which have been<br />

burning across the south-central region<br />

of the country, spread into new areas last<br />

month, prompting president Gabriel Boric<br />

to declare a state of emergency in the<br />

states of Biobio, Nuble and Araucania.<br />

So far the disaster has cost 24 lives,<br />

destroyed over 1,000 houses and affected<br />

300,000 hectares of land.<br />

Power supplies were threatened as<br />

electric co-<strong>op</strong> infrastructure was caught<br />

up in the fires and steps have been taken<br />

to restore service.<br />

Two fires, one of which affected the<br />

distribution network at a river crossing,<br />

affected the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa Eléctrica<br />

Curicó. “Fortunately, thanks to the good<br />

construction quality and use of conductor<br />

of good quality, the network withstood<br />

the ravages of the fire,” general manager<br />

Alejandro Toledo told <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong>.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> is carrying out preventive<br />

maintenance tasks, he added, including<br />

thermography, inspections and the felling<br />

of trees that could fall on the network in<br />

the event of a fire.<br />

“We have had to set up a stock of<br />

equipment and materials to be able<br />

to replace quickly in the event of a<br />

contingency that damages the network,”<br />

said Toledo.“Our brigades remain alert<br />

and our <strong>op</strong>erations centre coordinates<br />

with the fire stations to be able to react<br />

quickly both to cut off the supply when<br />

fire-fighters require it for safety, and to<br />

replace it as soon as possible so that<br />

customers are not affected by a loss of<br />

power supply.”<br />

Also affected was <strong>Co</strong>pelec, an electric<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> based in Chillán, central Chile,<br />

south of the River Ñuble. “Despite the<br />

difficult conditions, <strong>Co</strong>pelec is deployed<br />

p Staff from <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa Eléctrica Curicó<br />

assessing damages (image: <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa<br />

Eléctrica Curicó)<br />

with all of its emergency crews to restore<br />

service as soon as possible to our co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and affected customers,” it<br />

told members in a statement. “We thank<br />

you very much for your understanding in<br />

these hard times that our region and the<br />

south of Chile are going through.”<br />

USA<br />

Federation of<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s offers<br />

disaster relief after<br />

tornado hits Alabama<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators in the USA have mobilised<br />

relief efforts after severe weather raged<br />

through Alabama last month, with the<br />

cities of Selma and Eutaw hit by a tornado.<br />

The Federation of Southern<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (FSC) sent an emergency<br />

team to the area to help the community<br />

cover roofs with blue tarps, with many<br />

residents sheltering in their damaged<br />

homes to save their belongings.<br />

Made up of Alabama-based staff, the<br />

FSC team was led by Freddie Davis,<br />

director of its Rural Training & Research<br />

Center (RTRC) in Epes.<br />

While in Selma, the relief team helped<br />

with the clean-up <strong>op</strong>eration, cutting<br />

and clearing trees and brush. They also<br />

answered phone calls, prepared lunches,<br />

mended fences, served dinners, and<br />

guided residents to resource locations.<br />

While recovery work continues, the<br />

Federation is offering temporary housing<br />

p A team from the Federation helps with the<br />

post-disaster recovery work (image: FSC)<br />

at the RTRC to families impacted by the<br />

tornado.<br />

“The Federation is committed to<br />

providing co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

and land retention support and other<br />

resources for family farmers to aid in<br />

the recovery and rebuilding process,”<br />

said Davis.<br />

Historically, rural communities have<br />

less devel<strong>op</strong>ed infrastructure, greater<br />

distances between pe<strong>op</strong>le and services,<br />

and fewer resources. The Federation<br />

says these communities suffer more from<br />

disaster, as limited resources can’t support<br />

the assistance needed, and what help<br />

there is takes twice as long to arrive. The<br />

greatest needs during times of disaster are<br />

food, water, and shelter.<br />

“Family farmers, co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

community-based organisations, like<br />

the Federation, are usually positioned<br />

to assist communities and p<strong>op</strong>ulations<br />

severely affected by disasters, and<br />

other economic hardships,” added the<br />

Federation, a 56-year-old co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

association of black farmers, landowners,<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

“Disaster relief and recovery is a major<br />

part of our overall co-<strong>op</strong>erative economic<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment, land retention, and<br />

advocacy efforts,” said the Federation’s<br />

executive director <strong>Co</strong>rnelius Blanding.<br />

“We understand there are various<br />

challenges of rebuilding rural<br />

communities after a major disaster; the<br />

community itself – including farmers,<br />

landowners, and co-<strong>op</strong>eratively owned<br />

businesses – must be part of the relief and<br />

recovery efforts in order to create resilient<br />

communities.<br />

“Farmers are first responders and have<br />

always been.”<br />

14 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

EUROPE<br />

Worker co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

welcome progress<br />

toward new EU rules<br />

for digital economy<br />

The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Parliament has ad<strong>op</strong>ted a<br />

negotiating mandate for talks on measures<br />

to improve conditions for workers on<br />

digital labour platforms.<br />

At a plenary session on 2 February,<br />

MEPs approved a report from its<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmittee on Employment and Social<br />

Affairs (EMPL), which sets its negotiating<br />

position, with measures to combat false<br />

self-employment in platform work,<br />

human oversight on all decisions affecting<br />

working conditions, and a requirement for<br />

platforms to share more information with<br />

national authorities.<br />

The vote, passed with 376 in favour, 212<br />

against and 15 abstentions, gives EMPL a<br />

mandate to negotiate with the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

<strong>Co</strong>uncil, as part of the next steps towards<br />

the ad<strong>op</strong>tion of the directive.<br />

The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean confederation of<br />

industrial and service co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

(Cec<strong>op</strong>) welcomed the vote as “a strong<br />

step forward towards a more level playing<br />

field for businesses and better working<br />

conditions for workers”.<br />

The text recognises co-<strong>op</strong>s and calls<br />

on the EU member states to “protect and<br />

promote co-<strong>op</strong>erative undertakings”,<br />

Cec<strong>op</strong> noted, and includes an inclusive<br />

definition of workers’ representatives,<br />

which may also cover worker-owned co<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

Cec<strong>op</strong> also welcomed a provision to<br />

ensure a fair classification of platform<br />

workers, adding that “if all platforms<br />

correctly define the status of their workers,<br />

this will ensure level playing field and fair<br />

competition for co-<strong>op</strong>erative platforms”.<br />

“We defend the workers, we defend the<br />

good employers and fair competition,”<br />

report author MEP Elisabetta Gualmini<br />

(S&D, Italy), told MEPs.<br />

The growth of the gig economy has<br />

prompted fierce debate over working<br />

conditions around the world. The<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission estimates that 28<br />

million pe<strong>op</strong>le across the EU work through<br />

digital labour platforms, and this number<br />

will reach 43 million by 2025.<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> owned meat processor Danish Crown to cut 150 jobs<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratively owned meat processor<br />

Danish Crown has announced 150 job<br />

cuts at its business unit as part of a ‘new<br />

roadmap’.<br />

Danish Crown, which is owned by<br />

9,000 Danish cattle farmers via the co<strong>op</strong><br />

Leverandørselskabet Danish Crown<br />

Amba, released a statement last month<br />

with details of the restructuring.<br />

It cites <strong>Co</strong>vid-19, war in Ukraine and<br />

growth in China’s domestic pig production<br />

as factors that have led to lower exports<br />

and “reluctant customers”.<br />

Danish Crown now aims to cut DKK<br />

400m (GBP 47.8m) per year through a<br />

process of restructuring that is expected<br />

to take around six months.<br />

“These are drastic changes which have<br />

happened in a very short space of time,’<br />

said says Jais Valeur, group CEO at Danish<br />

Crown.<br />

“We can’t influence market trends,<br />

but we can do something about our own<br />

business. We based our strategy on a<br />

stable and strong market and a positive<br />

outlook. Now, everything has been turned<br />

upside down, and we’ve had to rethink the<br />

way in which we can achieve our goals.”<br />

The cost-cutting plans include merging<br />

or shutting down sales companies outside<br />

Denmark and reducing the capacity of<br />

its factories and slaughterhouses around<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e.<br />

Up to 40% less cattle will be slaughtered<br />

by Danish Crown between now and May,<br />

with future capacity beyond that date yet<br />

to be determined.<br />

The news comes after the recent<br />

announcement that Danish Crown is<br />

closing its deboning site in Boizenburg,<br />

east of Hamburg, Germany. Production<br />

director Per Laursen said that the site’s<br />

200 employees would be offered jobs at<br />

one of their other facilities “to the extent<br />

that it is possible”.<br />

Danish Crown also plans to cut 150<br />

jobs, 100 of which are expected to be in<br />

Denmark – primarily in the business unit<br />

Danish Crown, which was created through<br />

the merger of Danish Crown Pork and<br />

Danish Crown Foods.<br />

“It’s very sad having to say goodbye to<br />

so many skilled employees,” said Valeur,<br />

“but we really have no other choice in the<br />

current situation. <strong>Co</strong>sts, efficiency and<br />

a tight supply chain all the way from the<br />

farmer to the consumer are central to the<br />

current market situation.<br />

“This is why I would also like to stress<br />

that it is not because individual employees<br />

have not lived up to their responsibilities,<br />

but because of the extraordinary situation<br />

that we’re faced with and which,<br />

unfortunately, requires a rightsizing of the<br />

organisation.”<br />

Danish Crown says it has informed<br />

employees of the anticipated redundancies<br />

and is establishing a negotiating<br />

committee comprising management and<br />

employee representatives to discuss terms<br />

for those concerned.<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 15


War-torn credit<br />

unions given $355k in<br />

grants as global sector<br />

continues support<br />

Ukrainian credit unions will receive three<br />

grants worth US$355,000 (£286,556) from<br />

the Worldwide Foundation for Credit<br />

Unions (WFCU), via its Ukrainian Credit<br />

Union Displacement Fund, to cover the<br />

cost of <strong>op</strong>erating expenses, purchase<br />

alternative sources of power and recover<br />

the unpaid interest on loans.<br />

WFCU, the international devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

and charitable arm of the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

of Credit Unions (Woccu), worked with<br />

the All-Ukrainian Association of Credit<br />

Unions (AUACU) and the Ukrainian<br />

National Association of Savings and<br />

Credit Unions (UNASCU), both members<br />

of Woccu, to determine the key areas of<br />

need for the sector.<br />

Ukrainian martial law exempts military<br />

personnel from paying interest on loans,<br />

which hits the income of credit unions and<br />

limits their ability to provide new lending.<br />

Through the WFCU’s Servicemen Interest<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mpensation Program, Ukrainian<br />

credit unions are reimbursed on this lost<br />

CANADA<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> insurer<br />

earns Zero Carbon<br />

Certifi ation for new<br />

corporate HQ<br />

A co-<strong>op</strong>erative insurer’s new corporate<br />

headquarters in Guelph, Ontario, has<br />

earned a Zero Carbon Building – Design<br />

Standard certification from the Canada<br />

Green Building <strong>Co</strong>uncil (CAGBC).<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators announced it had become<br />

carbon-neutral in 2020 and in 2021<br />

pledged to reach net zero emissions in its<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations by 2040.<br />

It says the new building, which <strong>op</strong>ens<br />

next summer, will be energy efficient,<br />

minimising its annual carbon emissions<br />

and offsetting any remaining emissions.<br />

The building’s all-electric design, with<br />

high-level insulation, automatic tinting<br />

windows and LED lights to conserve<br />

interest; so far, 42 associated credit unions<br />

have applied and received compensation<br />

totalling $170,000 (£137,224). WFCU has<br />

also spent $130,000 (£104,936) under its<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vering Operational Expenses Program<br />

to help 75 credit unions with their<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating expenses.<br />

Meanwhile, WFCU’s Alternative<br />

Power Sources Program co-financed the<br />

purchase of alternative energy sources<br />

for credit unions, so they could stay<br />

<strong>op</strong>erational during power outages. A total<br />

of 91 credit unions each received $600<br />

(£484) toward the purchase of generators,<br />

power stations or power banks.<br />

Around 100 credit unions have received<br />

grants under these three programmes,<br />

representing more than two-thirds of<br />

Ukraine’s entire credit union market.<br />

“Thanks to Woccu and WFCU efforts,<br />

as well as donations from the global<br />

credit co-<strong>op</strong>erative community, Ukrainian<br />

credit unions have received invaluable<br />

assistance,” wrote Olga Tugai and<br />

Volodymyr Sydorovsky, managers of the<br />

All-Ukrainian Credit Union Association, in<br />

their joint letter of appreciation to WFCU.<br />

“In these difficult times for our credit<br />

unions, the assistance provided has been a<br />

significant contribution to the support and<br />

preservation of the Ukrainian credit union<br />

movement. Your support emphasises that<br />

energy, will generate around 9% of its<br />

annual consumption through a 282 kW<br />

rooft<strong>op</strong> solar array. It will feature 40%<br />

greater energy and greenhouse gas<br />

savings than the Ontario Building <strong>Co</strong>de’s<br />

all-electric baseline and 60% higher<br />

heating load reduction than the minimum<br />

required for new office builds.<br />

“With this certification, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

joins a growing list of forward-thinking<br />

organisations investing in the future<br />

through zero carbon buildings,” said<br />

Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of<br />

the Canada Green Building <strong>Co</strong>uncil. “Our<br />

made-in-Canada and globally recognised<br />

all of us, together, make up a large global<br />

credit co-<strong>op</strong>erative family.”<br />

The initiatives are part of WFCU’s<br />

efforts to support Ukrainian credit unions.<br />

WFCU has so far disbursed more than<br />

$600,000 (£484,320) from its Ukrainian<br />

Credit Union Displacement Fund to assist<br />

credit unions, their members and their<br />

communities that are struggling during<br />

wartime.<br />

“We continue to be overwhelmed by the<br />

support of the international credit union<br />

community, which has now donated<br />

nearly $2m (£1.61m) to the Displacement<br />

Fund in less than one year. We will<br />

keep looking for ways to provide aid<br />

to credit unions during the war, while<br />

keeping money on hand for the eventual<br />

restoration and rebuilding of Ukraine’s<br />

credit union system,” said Mike Reuter,<br />

WFCU executive director.<br />

Donations to the fund can be made at<br />

bit.ly/3jjKWA4<br />

Zero Carbon Building standards provide<br />

tangible ways for organisations like <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erators<br />

to realise their sustainability<br />

targets. The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators’ headquarters<br />

promises to be a marquee green building<br />

offering enduring value and resiliency for<br />

the company and a healthy and productive<br />

place to work for employees.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators’ vice-president of<br />

workplace services, Shawn Fitzgerald,<br />

said: “Achieving the Zero Carbon<br />

Building – Design Standard certification<br />

for our national headquarters is a strong<br />

reflection of our values and vision to<br />

catalyse sustainability in our society.<br />

“This building is a compelling<br />

demonstration of imagination and<br />

innovation that will be required as we<br />

build for a more sustainable future in<br />

Canada. We have an important role to play<br />

in mitigating the risks of climate change<br />

in a direct and meaningful way, helping<br />

move Canada and the world towards a net<br />

zero emissions future.”<br />

16 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

EUROPE<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative banking sector continues to grow, EACB fig res show<br />

The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Association of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Banks (EACB) has published its latest<br />

statistics on the sector, showing continued<br />

growth and “sound business results” for<br />

the sector.<br />

In addition to the statistics, compiled<br />

from member data, the EACB unveiled<br />

research paper by Prof Hans Groeneveld<br />

from Tilburg University, Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

co<strong>op</strong>erative banks in 2021: a concise<br />

assessment, which reviews devel<strong>op</strong>ments<br />

in the overall performance of 18 co-<strong>op</strong><br />

banking groups in 13 countries.<br />

It found that co-<strong>op</strong>erative bank<br />

membership grew by 1.4% to 88 million<br />

in 2021. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative banks also managed<br />

to stabilise their domestic market<br />

share but witnessed a slight decrease<br />

of 0.2 percentage points to 34.7 in their<br />

branch market share, a change the study<br />

attributes to a relatively larger downsizing<br />

of their branch networks in 2021.<br />

Meanwhile, the average Tier 1 ratio<br />

reached a new all-time high of 17.3 and<br />

the cost-to-income ratio improved by 2<br />

percentage points to 62.<br />

The study also compared the average<br />

performance to that of the entire banking<br />

sector in same countries in 2021 and<br />

estimates the likely implications of the<br />

2022 data. It found that the average return<br />

on equity of co-<strong>op</strong>erative banks and all<br />

other banks rose to the highest levels in<br />

years (6.8% and 6.5%, respectively). The<br />

paper described the disparity in lending<br />

and deposit growth between co-<strong>op</strong> banks<br />

and the collective banking sector as a<br />

structural phenomenon.<br />

In terms of loans, growth accelerated<br />

to 6.7% for co-<strong>op</strong>erative banks – the<br />

sector’s largest expansion since 2011. The<br />

whole banking sector increased its loan<br />

portfolio by only 4.1%.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative banks also witnessed a<br />

7% increase in their deposit base – this<br />

was just 5.9% for other banks.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative banks posted sound<br />

business results in 2021. For the countries<br />

included in the study, the membership<br />

base continued to grow, welcoming<br />

more than 1 million new members” said<br />

Groeneveld.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative banks strengthened<br />

their market position in the domestic<br />

retail banking sphere as a result of higher<br />

growth rates of both loans and deposits<br />

in comparison to all other banks. They<br />

accommodated strong credit demand by<br />

expanding their loan portfolio by 6.7%.<br />

“This marks the highest credit<br />

growth since 2011. <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative banks<br />

also significantly improved their Tier 1<br />

ratio, which hit a record level in 2021.<br />

The figures demonstrate the divergent<br />

business focus of co-<strong>op</strong>erative banks<br />

as well as their importance for the real<br />

economy in Eur<strong>op</strong>e.”<br />

EACB CEO Nina Schindler thanked the<br />

organisation’s members for contributing<br />

with their data to the statistics table.<br />

“This shall not only serve as a useful<br />

tool for researchers and academics, but<br />

offer policymakers a quantitative insight<br />

into the co-<strong>op</strong>erative banking sector,”<br />

she added. “This publication certainly<br />

manifests that co-<strong>op</strong>erative banks<br />

are decisive players in the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

economy.”<br />

GLOBAL<br />

International<br />

learning programme for<br />

credit union educators<br />

<strong>op</strong>en for applications<br />

The Worldwide Foundation for Credit<br />

Unions (I-CUDE) is now accepting<br />

applications for its International<br />

Credit Union Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Education<br />

programme.<br />

Aimed at credit union devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

educators, the programme is available to<br />

credit union professionals who complete<br />

a significant level of project work and have<br />

received a Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Educator (DE)<br />

designation through one of seven national<br />

or regional DE programmes.<br />

To qualify, applicants must have<br />

received DE status in their home country<br />

and show they have completed at least<br />

one independent studies project that<br />

aligns with the learning objectives of the<br />

DE programme. The application process<br />

includes writing a 500 word report on the<br />

project.<br />

The I-CUDE Class of <strong>2023</strong> will be<br />

recognised at the <strong>2023</strong> World Credit Union<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nference, co-hosted by World <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

of Credit Unions and the Canadian<br />

Credit Union Association, July 23-26, in<br />

Vancouver, Canada.<br />

“We can’t wait to select the I-CUDE<br />

Class of <strong>2023</strong> and introduce them to the<br />

world this summer.”<br />

All applications will be sent to national<br />

or regional DE programme directors<br />

who will confirm they meet I-CUDE<br />

requirements before forwarding them<br />

to the Worldwide Foundation for Credit<br />

Unions, whose staff will review, select<br />

and notify those chosen for I-CUDE<br />

designation.<br />

Applications are <strong>op</strong>en until 14 April at<br />

p Kevin Lashley (Barbados) and Angela<br />

Prestil (USA) from the I-CUDE Class of 2022<br />

(image: WCFU)<br />

bit.ly/418QiyX<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 17

USA<br />

Hawaiian electric co-<strong>op</strong> draws up habitat plan to meet eco-regulations<br />

Kauaʿi Island Utility <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

(KIUC) has unveiled a US$265m habitat<br />

conservation plan to minimise its impact<br />

on threatened wildlife.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> is acquiring an incidental<br />

take permit – which is required for<br />

otherwise lawful projects that might result<br />

in the take of an endangered or threatened<br />

species – from the US Fish and Wildlife<br />

Service and an incidental take license<br />

(ITL) from the Hawai‘i Department of<br />

Land and Natural Resources’ Division of<br />

Forestry and Wildlife.<br />

The permits would allow the continued<br />

<strong>op</strong>eration and maintenance of existing<br />

and new KIUC infrastructure for the<br />

next 50 years. KIUC has devel<strong>op</strong>ed the<br />

conservation plan to support the issuance<br />

of these permits.<br />

The plan’s covered species are the green<br />

sea turtle, Hawaiian goose, Hawaiian<br />

common gallinule, Hawaiian coot,<br />

Hawaiian duck, Hawaiian stilt, bandrumped<br />

storm-petrel, Hawaiian petrel and<br />

Newell’s shearwater.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> is responsible for the<br />

production, purchase, transmission,<br />

distribution, and sale of electricity on<br />

Kauaʻi, which has a land area of around 550<br />

square miles. It owns and <strong>op</strong>erates a variety<br />

of electrical utility installations including<br />

fossil fuel-fired, hydroelectric, and solar<br />

generating facilities, 17 substations and<br />

switchyards, and approximately 1,487<br />

circuit miles (2,393 km) of transmission<br />

and distribution lines.<br />

KIUC’s conservation strategy is based<br />

on a set of biological goals and objectives<br />

for each covered species. These were<br />

designed to minimise impact from power<br />

line strikes and light attraction from<br />

streetlights while mitigating as much<br />

as possible any unavoidable effects and<br />

contributing to species recovery.<br />

Another component of the strategy is<br />

adaptive management, which, says KIUC,<br />

will monitor results to adjust conservation<br />

measures and better meet the goals of<br />

the plan.<br />

Measures include power line collision<br />

minimisation; curbing light attraction;<br />

funding for the Save Our Shearwaters<br />

Program; managing and enhancing<br />

seabird breeding habitat and colonies<br />

at conservation sites; a green sea turtle<br />

p Upper Waiahi Hydro Plant (image: KIUC)<br />

nest detection and temporary shielding<br />

program; and identifying and installing<br />

practicable permanent light minimisation<br />

techniques for green sea turtles.<br />

The cost of the plan will be included in<br />

KIUC’s annual <strong>op</strong>erating budget and paid<br />

for by customers via energy sales. The co<strong>op</strong><br />

says it included $4.9m in <strong>op</strong>erating<br />

expenses and $14.1m in capital costs<br />

related to endangered species compliance<br />

for the test year of <strong>2023</strong>, as part of its<br />

recent rate case filing with the Public<br />

Utilities <strong>Co</strong>mmission. The estimated cost<br />

of the habitat conservation plan over the<br />

50-year period is just under $265m.<br />

The plan will be available for public<br />

review and comment by 24 <strong>March</strong>.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mments may be emailed to dofaw.<br />

hcp@hawaii.gov or mailed to Department<br />

of Land and Natural Resources, 1151<br />

Punchbowl Street, Room 325, Honolulu,<br />

Hawaii 96813 or to hcp@kiuc.co<strong>op</strong>.<br />

KIUC was bought out from Citizen<br />

Utilities by a group of local business<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le, who converted it into a co-<strong>op</strong> in<br />

2002. At the time Kauai’s electric rates<br />

were among the highest in the nation. Not<br />

only did they stabilise since then, but the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> had no rate increases between 2009<br />

and 2020. It has also already achieved its<br />

70% renewable power by 2030 target.<br />

“We’ve essentially reached the State’s<br />

2040 renewable benchmark a full<br />

nineteen years early, and nine years<br />

ahead of our Board of Directors’ strategic<br />

goal,” stated KIUC’s president and chief<br />

executive David Bissell, following the<br />

utility’s annual Renewable Portfolio<br />

Standards (RPS) filing with the Hawaiʻi<br />

Public Utilities <strong>Co</strong>mmission. He added<br />

that 69.5% is more than double the State<br />

of Hawaiʻi’s current RPS requirement of<br />

30%. Kauaʻi’s power generation mix for<br />

2021 included 45% solar, 14% hydro and<br />

11% biomass.<br />

In December 2022, for only the second<br />

time in its 20-year history, the co-<strong>op</strong> asked<br />

the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities <strong>Co</strong>mmission<br />

(PUC) for an increase in rates to address<br />

the gap in sales growth versus inflation.<br />

This increase is designed to provide the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> with an approximate 9.42% increase<br />

in its electric revenues and will cost the<br />

average residential customer an extra $19<br />

for 500 kilowatt hours per month.<br />

“There’s never a good time to increase<br />

rates,” said Bissell. “However, since our<br />

last base rate increase in 2010, growth<br />

in electricity sales has lagged far behind<br />

inflation, so an adjustment is necessary.”<br />

18 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

USA<br />

Electric co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

included in $2.7bn<br />

federal fund to upgrade<br />

rural power grid<br />

The US government has announced a<br />

$2.7bn investment to help 64 electric<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and utilities expand and<br />

modernise the rural electric grid and<br />

improve security.<br />

Announcing the move, agriculture<br />

secretary Tom Vilsack said: “These critical<br />

investments will benefit rural pe<strong>op</strong>le and<br />

businesses in many ways for decades to<br />

come. This funding will help rural co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and utilities invest in changes<br />

that make our energy more efficient, more<br />

reliable, and more affordable. Investing in<br />

infrastructure – roads, bridges, broadband<br />

and energy – supports good-paying jobs<br />

and keeps the United States poised to lead<br />

the global economy.”<br />

The US Department of Agriculture<br />

(USDA) is investing in 64 projects through<br />

its Electric Loan Program, and says it<br />

will benefit nearly 2 million rural pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

and businesses in Alabama, Arkansas,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>lorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa,<br />

Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota,<br />

Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New<br />

Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota,<br />

Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina,<br />

South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia,<br />

Washington and Wisconsin.<br />

The loans include $613m to help rural<br />

utilities and co-<strong>op</strong>s install and upgrade<br />

smart grid technologies. Smart grid can<br />

be a catalyst for broadband and other<br />

telecommunications services in unserved<br />

and underserved rural areas in addition to<br />

improving grid security and reliability.<br />

Nearly half of the awards will help<br />

finance infrastructure improvements<br />

in underserved communities, the<br />

USDA adds. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s benefiting from the<br />

scheme include:<br />

• The Northern Virginia Electric<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative is receiving a $111m<br />

loan to connect 1,264 consumers and<br />

build and improve 404 miles of line.<br />

The loan includes $13.4m for smart<br />

grid technologies. Northern Virginia<br />

Electric, headquartered in Manassas,<br />

serves 176,604 consumers over 7,614<br />

miles of line in six counties.<br />

• The Carteret-Craven Electric<br />

Membership <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative in Newport,<br />

North Carolina, is receiving a $28m<br />

loan to connect 3,115 consumers and<br />

build and improve 132 miles of line. The<br />

loan includes $169,437 for smart grid<br />

technologies. Carteret-Craven Electric<br />

serves 41,655 consumers through<br />

2,493 miles of line in four counties in<br />

southeastern North Carolina.<br />

• Minnesota’s Beltrami Electric<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative is receiving a $22.7m<br />

loan to connect 1,480 consumers and<br />

build and improve 225 miles of line.<br />

The loan includes $1.3m for smart<br />

grid technologies. Beltrami Electric is<br />

headquartered in Bemidji, Minnesota.<br />

It serves 21,772 consumers in portions<br />

of Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard,<br />

Itasca and Koochiching counties with<br />

3,500 miles of distribution line covering<br />

approximately 3,000 square miles.<br />

In the coming months, USDA will<br />

announce additional energy infrastructure<br />

financing, and says the Electric Loan<br />

Program can help finance wind, solar and<br />

natural gas plants, as well as improvements<br />

to produce cleaner energy from coalfired<br />

plants. Local utilities also use the<br />

loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver<br />

affordable power to millions of residential,<br />

commercial and agricultural consumers.<br />

NRECA launches 10-point plan to beat cybercrime<br />

The USA’s National Rural Electric<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Association (NRECA) has<br />

launched a cybersecurity programme to<br />

help co-<strong>op</strong>s in the sector improve their<br />

defences and response to cyberthreats.<br />

The programme, which sets out 10<br />

goals, is based on the performance<br />

recommendations from the US<br />

Department of Homeland Security.<br />

NRECA is calling on all electric co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

to participate in the scheme and meet the<br />

following goals:<br />

• Establish a cybersecurity point of<br />

contact<br />

• Self-assessment<br />

• <strong>Co</strong>ntract review<br />

• Multi-factor authentication<br />

• Default password policy<br />

• Leadership training<br />

• Employee training<br />

• IT\OT segmentation<br />

• Cyber Incident response plan<br />

• Data backups<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s that sign up for the programme<br />

will receive guidelines and links to<br />

resources to help them meet the 10 goals,<br />

which can be used alongside its new CEO<br />

guidebook on cybersecurity.<br />

“These goals are building blocks for a<br />

solid cybersecurity posture and lead co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

on the road to achieving greater cyber<br />

priorities,” NRECA chief scientist Emma<br />

Stewart told Rural Electric Magazine.<br />

The apex will provide awards along<br />

with a digital badge to all co-<strong>op</strong>s that<br />

complete the 10 goals by the end of <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 19

JAPAN<br />

Sustainable<br />

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

in Yakushima Island’s<br />

ancient cedar forest<br />

A newly built Japanese housing co-<strong>op</strong>, on<br />

Yakushima Island, has been designed to<br />

foster a greater connection with nature for<br />

its inhabitants.<br />

Sumu Yakushima is co-owned by<br />

eight members who live on the site with<br />

their families, and also offers holiday<br />

accommodation for visitors.<br />

Sumu means both “to live” and “to<br />

become clear”, and according to its coowners,<br />

the name expresses how they<br />

live in the co-<strong>op</strong> – in a way that positively<br />

impacts both its residents and the<br />

landscape.<br />

Sumu Yakushima’s architect, Tsukasa<br />

Ono, devel<strong>op</strong>ed the idea for the housing<br />

project with his friends in 2020 while<br />

temporarily living in a hotel on Yakushima<br />

during lockdown.<br />

Identifying three main needs for<br />

humans – drinking water and food, energy<br />

and community – Ono said: “Sumu was<br />

conceived as a place to meet them all.<br />

“Yakushima is an island rich in nature,<br />

SPAIN<br />

Catalan housing<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> receives social<br />

innovation prize<br />

Sostre Cívic, a housing co-<strong>op</strong> in Catalonia,<br />

Spain, was one of the three winners at<br />

the 2022 Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Social Innovation<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mpetition.<br />

In their 10th edition, the awards are<br />

granted by the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission<br />

and the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Innovation <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA).<br />

The 2022 competition sought to attract<br />

applications from diverse fields tackling<br />

the challenge linked to the current<br />

architecture and sustainable solutions of<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean housing districts.<br />

Sostre Cívic was one of the three winners<br />

and will receive €50,000 along with a twoday<br />

Social Innovation Academia, which<br />

will offer business acceleration services to<br />

all winners and finalists.<br />

so you can even drink the water from the<br />

river. We have a farm and can produce<br />

food. Energy can be charged hourly in offgrid<br />

systems. And we share and nurture<br />

this place with our most important<br />

friends.”<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> was built among cedar<br />

trees, in a manner sympathetic to the<br />

surrounding landscape without cutting<br />

down large trees or levelling the ground,<br />

and runs on 100% off-grid energy from<br />

solar, storage batteries and local firewood.<br />

Its creators fused modern technology<br />

with traditional Japanese civil engineering<br />

practices to devel<strong>op</strong> a regenerative model<br />

of architecture. Key considerations include<br />

the site’s underground environment as<br />

well as how water and air flows around<br />

the landscape.<br />

Each cabin is raised from the forest<br />

floor, allowing air to flow underneath<br />

and avoiding the accumulation of excess<br />

moisture. Burned wood is placed beneath<br />

the structures to promote the growth<br />

of mycelium, the forest’s underground<br />

fungal network.<br />

Wooden walkways connect the<br />

individual and communal areas, taking<br />

its residents on outdoor walks through the<br />

forest when moving between buildings,<br />

and connecting each co-<strong>op</strong> member to one<br />

another.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> was praised for implementing<br />

“an alternative housing model, fairer<br />

and more accessible, non-profit, nonspeculative<br />

and transformative.”<br />

Two other co-<strong>op</strong> projects were also<br />

selected among the finalists: La Borda,<br />

in Sants (Barcelona) and La Titaranya, in<br />

Valls (Tarragona).<br />

Jean-David Malo, director of Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

Innovation <strong>Co</strong>uncil and SMEs Executive<br />

Agency said: “We award the prize to find<br />

the most innovative solutions to societal<br />

challenges. Effective change requires<br />

local leadership with a global vision.<br />

Our finalists are real change-makers,<br />

raising awareness of energy consumption,<br />

implementing changes in public and<br />

private sectors, creating a new, inclusive,<br />

sustainable, and affordable market.”<br />

Hubert Gambs, deputy director<br />

general for Internal Market, Industry,<br />

Entrepreneurship and SMEs said: “Social<br />

innovation is crucial to increase resilience<br />

and support the transformation of our<br />

The eight co-<strong>op</strong>erators own Sumu<br />

Yakushima via a joint-stock company, each<br />

having an equal share. Most decisions are<br />

made by working groups of three or four<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le, with big decisions made by all<br />

members at bi-annual meetings.<br />

Ono said he wanted Sumu Yakushima to<br />

be a co-<strong>op</strong> so its way of life can be passed<br />

onto the next generation – most of the co<strong>op</strong>’s<br />

members have young children.<br />

“Projects like ours tend to be difficult<br />

to sustain,” he added, “[but] every owner<br />

will carry out this project for themselves<br />

and their children, too. This will motivate<br />

us to keep going.<br />

“We spend time together at Sumu and<br />

learn how to interact with nature as we live<br />

here…We want children to experience it<br />

and recognize that it is a usual way of life.”<br />

economies, while putting pe<strong>op</strong>le first.<br />

With this competition, which celebrates<br />

its tenth edition this year, we support<br />

social innovations that will bring social,<br />

environmental, and economic value at<br />

once. The three winners of the 2022 edition<br />

are social innovators greatly contributing<br />

through their innovative projects to the<br />

future of our living.”<br />

The accolade is not the only one Sostre<br />

Cívic has received this year. In January the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> was granted the Silver at the World<br />

Habitat Awards. Granted by World Habitat<br />

in partnership with United Nations<br />

(UN)-Habitat, the awards recognise and<br />

highlight innovative, outstanding and<br />

sometimes revolutionary housing ideas,<br />

projects and programmes from across<br />

the world.<br />

Sostre Cívic has more than 1,100<br />

members throughout the territory and<br />

manages a total of 26 projects, nine of<br />

them already in coexistence with more<br />

than 120 homes.<br />

20 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

DR CONGO<br />

20 agriculture<br />

managers receive co-<strong>op</strong><br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment training<br />

The International Labour Organization<br />

(ILO) has delivered co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

training to 20 agriculture managers in the<br />

Democratic Republic of <strong>Co</strong>ngo’s (DRC)<br />

Kasai province.<br />

Held in the city of Tshikapa from 12 to<br />

23 December last year, the training looked<br />

at the ILO’s key tools for co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

entrepreneurship.<br />

Participants, who will pass on the<br />

lessons by running training sessions<br />

at their own organisations, included<br />

representatives from Kasai province’s<br />

departments of agriculture, fisheries and<br />

livestock and community devel<strong>op</strong>ment,<br />

as well as NGOs working on food security<br />

issues.<br />

The train-the-trainer course shared<br />

a number of co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

training tools with the participants,<br />

including Think.COOP, Start.COOP and<br />

My.COOP.<br />

The Think.COOP tool provides an<br />

introduction to co-<strong>op</strong>s for anyone<br />

interested in starting or joining one. Start.<br />

COOP gives guidance on the steps needed<br />

to set up a co-<strong>op</strong>, while My.COOP is a<br />

guide specifically about the management<br />

of agricultural co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

Plans are under way for the group<br />

to receive further coaching, as part of<br />

the ILO’s wider goal “to put in place a<br />

sustainable mechanism for improving<br />

the employability of young pe<strong>op</strong>le, [and]<br />

the economic empowerment of rural<br />

communities“.<br />

The course was funded by the African<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Bank as part of the National<br />

Road No.1 Rehabilitation Project, which<br />

will link Tshikapa and Kamuesha.<br />

The course participants are due to<br />

receive their certification for participation<br />

in Tshikapa this month.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators in Jordan assess changes to sector law<br />

A recent event by the International<br />

Labour Organization (ILO) and the Jordan<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>rporation (JCC) looked<br />

at amendments to Jordan’s co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

legislation. The ILO and JCC brought<br />

together a range of stakeholders, including<br />

key ministries and social partners, for the<br />

technical worksh<strong>op</strong> at the Dead Sea over<br />

27-28 January.<br />

Unimed launches new patient services in Florianópolis<br />

Unimed Grande Florianópolis, a local<br />

branch of Brazilian medical co-<strong>op</strong> Unimed,<br />

has started offering a new range of digital<br />

services to members. The branch, which<br />

provides healthcare services within the<br />

Santa Catarina state started rethinking the<br />

way it was delivering healthcare in light of<br />

the surge in admissions and demand for<br />

services post pandemic.<br />

State procurement boost for <strong>Co</strong>lombia’s co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

<strong>Co</strong>lombia’s national government has<br />

ad<strong>op</strong>ted a decree on public procurement<br />

which includes measures to improve<br />

to co-<strong>op</strong>eratives’ access to the public<br />

procurement system, and adds social and<br />

environmental impact criteria. National<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> apex <strong>Co</strong>nfeco<strong>op</strong> said it would help<br />

promote co-<strong>op</strong>s “as an <strong>op</strong>tion to generate<br />

income and decent jobs”.<br />

Brazilian co-<strong>op</strong>s to trial hydrogen from animal waste<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

Two Brazilian co-<strong>op</strong>s have partnered<br />

with the German government on a green<br />

hydrogen project that could produce<br />

275 tonnes of green energy every day.<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>ersan and Ambico<strong>op</strong>, based in Paraná<br />

in southern Brazil, signed an agreement<br />

for the public-private partnership last<br />

month. The project will convert methane<br />

from pig manure into hydrogen fuel.<br />

Filipino electric co-<strong>op</strong>s asked to explain apparent<br />

‘lack of transparency’<br />

Image: GettyImages<br />

The Philippines’ National Electrification<br />

Administration (NEA) has issued showcause<br />

orders asking eight electric co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

to explain “highly irregular process”<br />

undertaken for the purchase of an<br />

aggregated power requirement totalling<br />

to 130MW.<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 21

MEET<br />

John Brodie<br />

CEO of Scotmid <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

John Brodie trained as an accountant and was appointed<br />

chief executive officer at Scottish Midland <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Society (Scotmid) in 2005. He also chairs the Scottish Retail<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nsortium and received an MBE in 2018.<br />



I was aware of a local co-<strong>op</strong> department store that<br />

was at the end of the high street in the town where I<br />

grew up. I can also recall the jingle that was on the<br />

local radio station when I was a student studying:<br />

‘Have you seen the change at Scotmid?’ After I<br />

married and moved there was a Scotmid with a<br />

very friendly butcher. That friendly butcher got a<br />

surprise a couple of years later when I told him I<br />

was now a colleague!<br />


I was a chartered accountant working in practice<br />

and was involved with a number of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

clients. I was also involved in preparing a forward<br />

plan to allow Scotmid to do a banking tender and<br />

structure its borrowings. Many months after that<br />

was all complete, I got a call one grey November<br />

Friday afternoon asking if I would be interested in<br />

joining. My initial reaction was no, but I agreed to<br />

go for lunch and find out more.<br />

By January I had started for what I thought would<br />

be a couple of years to broaden my CV! 30 years<br />

later I’m still here.<br />

One thing that struck me straight<br />

away was the friendliness of the<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le both within Scotmid and<br />

in other co-<strong>op</strong>erative businesses<br />


AS CEO?<br />

Adding it up I’ve worked for around 7000 days<br />

and, as yet, I have still to find one that is similar!<br />

Initially, I thought that there might be a lack of<br />

variety as with the accountancy profession. I eat<br />

those words on a regular basis.<br />


There is a lot that’s special. One thing that struck<br />

me straight away was the friendliness of the pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

both within Scotmid and in other co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

businesses. The culture and purpose were there for<br />

everyone to see and from a business point of view,<br />

being able to take a long-term view. At our 150th<br />

anniversary I can recall saying that we are just<br />

custodians for a short space of time. Even after 30<br />

years, you realise that it’s not a long time when the<br />

society has existed for over 160 years.<br />



THAT TIME?<br />

In many respects, there are too many changes to<br />

mention—some good and some not so good.<br />

The ones I would highlight are:<br />

• We closed on Wednesday and Saturday<br />

afternoons<br />

• We had large non-food stores and large food<br />

stores<br />

• We had massive computers spitting out green<br />

and white paper<br />

• We had a questionable reputation that is nowhere<br />

as good as it is today<br />

22 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

On change, I saw a st<strong>op</strong> start pattern and since<br />

becoming CEO have pushed the continuous<br />

improvement philos<strong>op</strong>hy that change is never<br />

ending and we must, however unpleasant, keep<br />

changing and adapting to our members’ and<br />

customers’ needs.<br />



That’s an easy question to answer. Without doubt<br />

I am very proud of my colleagues, whether elected<br />

members or our employees who turn up day in<br />

and day out to do a great job for the society. They<br />

adapt when required and put the society before<br />

themselves. They live and breathe our core purpose,<br />

‘To serve our communities and improve pe<strong>op</strong>le’s<br />

everyday lives’. On specifics, the acquisition of the<br />

Spar chain Botterill’s in 2012 where I shook hands<br />

with the seller in a McDonald’s in the West of<br />

Scotland on a £20m plus deal!<br />

That allowed us to expand into Southwest<br />

Scotland and when the <strong>op</strong>portunity to merge<br />

with Penrith Society arose it made the case much<br />

more logical. Also, Scotmid being in the Guinness<br />

book of records [for the largest Burns’ Night<br />

Supper, hosted in January 2020] as well as getting<br />

mentioned on Songs of Praise recently by a former<br />

Prime Minister are special. But the thing that makes<br />

me equally proud is when we do our membership<br />

and community report at our general meetings, and<br />

you can reflect on what a difference we make as<br />

an organisation.<br />


Not surprisingly there have been a few challenges<br />

including the rise of discounters, Sh<strong>op</strong>rite and<br />

Kwiksave, the financial crash, the 2014 issues<br />

in Manchester, the pandemic and now the costof-living<br />

crisis... Not to mention a few internal<br />

challenges to deal with as well.<br />


YEARS?<br />

An even bigger and better society but still true to its<br />

values and being guided by its core purpose.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mpetition<br />

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More than ever,<br />

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Here’s to another 50 years<br />

of telling it like it is.<br />


50:50<br />

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MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 23

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press Rules Review <strong>Co</strong>nsultation –<br />

Deadline for responses: Friday 30th <strong>March</strong><br />

Dear Members,<br />

As reported at last year’s AGM, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Press has been working on pr<strong>op</strong>osals for a complete amendment of the rules<br />

of the society to bring to an SGM.<br />

The SGM is likely to be called for the week commencing 17th April, but before we publish the final pr<strong>op</strong>osals, we<br />

would like to give our members a chance to have your say and ask any questions you may have.<br />

To that end, we have written a documents that summarises the rule changes, how they differ from the previous rules<br />

and what the rationale for each change.<br />

You can also refer to the society’s current Rules and to the full draft of the new Rules. All these documents can be<br />

downloaded at thenews.co<strong>op</strong>/<strong>2023</strong>rulesreview. If you would prefer to receive hard c<strong>op</strong>ies of the rule books,<br />

please email secretary@thenews.co<strong>op</strong> or give us a ring on 0161 214 0870 and we’ll get some in the post to you.<br />

This is a genuine consultation. We will respond to your feedback and, where our Board feel it is appr<strong>op</strong>riate, make<br />

changes to the pr<strong>op</strong>osed rules before they are placed before the SGM for voting.<br />

However, time is tight because of the need to hold our three-yearly board elections at this year’s AGM later in the<br />

year. For that reason, we ask that you please let us have your feedback no later than 5pm on Friday 30th <strong>March</strong>.<br />

Yours in <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration,<br />

Richard Bickle, Society Secretary<br />


New Japanese housing co-<strong>op</strong><br />

built in Yakushima Island’s<br />

ancient cedar forest<br />

This is an incredible testament to the<br />

power of co<strong>op</strong>eration, and the best kind<br />

of human innovation, living with nature<br />

rather than seeking to master it. Bravo!<br />

Matthew Epperson<br />

Via website<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group to contest £450m legal claim over Somerfiel sale<br />

This would have taken place during the<br />

Pennycook era and ‘came out of the blue’<br />

as I remember it. The original Somerfield<br />

purchase was under the Peter Marks<br />

period. Mr Pennycook was described as<br />

a financial wizard who we were lucky to<br />

have and should not really be subject<br />

to too much scrutiny. PWC are serious<br />

<strong>op</strong>erators and unlikely to bring frivolous<br />

claims. My guess is that this case will take<br />

some time to conclude and may reveal<br />

whether the scrutiny of Pennycook should<br />

have been more robust - unless of course it<br />

is settled with non disclosure clauses.<br />

Ian Hewitt<br />

Via Facebook<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 />

<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 />

<strong>Co</strong>rrection: Last month’s <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong><br />

article ‘SAOS conference, Scottish farm<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s face up to the climate crunch’<br />

reported Alison Hester from the James<br />

Hutton Institute as saying that the<br />

organisation wants to make Scotland<br />

‘a leading hydrogen’ nation; she was<br />

actually referring to Scottish government<br />

policy on hydrogen.<br />

24 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>


Rethinking economic value and communication:<br />

the challenges facing consumer co-<strong>op</strong>eratives today<br />

Jeevan Jones is an economist and elected<br />

Vice President for Business Performance<br />

and Strategy of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group’s<br />

National Members’ <strong>Co</strong>uncil (writing in a<br />

personal capacity).<br />

As we make our way through this year’s<br />

consumer co-<strong>op</strong>erative conference season,<br />

it’s timely to reflect on our purpose and<br />

relevance.<br />

Two key events in the UK’s co-<strong>op</strong><br />

calendar around this time are the<br />

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

conference (24-25 Feb in Lincoln, see p29-<br />

31) and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK’s <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Retail <strong>Co</strong>nference (24-26 <strong>March</strong>, Cheshire),<br />

which both bring together theorists and<br />

practitioners to consider what consumer<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration means today.<br />

In Lincoln, I spoke about the need to<br />

change how we think about creating and<br />

sharing economic value with members<br />

in modern times. This is particularly<br />

necessary as consumers struggle in a costof-living<br />

crisis and retailers face acute<br />

supply challenges.<br />

Traditionally, co-<strong>op</strong>erators focus<br />

on distributing financial surpluses to<br />

their members. Linking the share of<br />

this surplus to each member’s spend<br />

should drive loyalty and ultimately a<br />

commercial and co-<strong>op</strong>erative advantage.<br />

But in times that are more prudent than<br />

prosperous, it helps to rethink. We can use<br />

a new framework that categorises member<br />

economic value into five broad categories<br />

– price, products, proximity, principles<br />

and proceeds.<br />

Of the ‘five Ps’, proceeds can be seen<br />

as ‘below the line’ – the money left from<br />

sales after all other costs. But the other<br />

Ps, while they have associated costs,<br />

can also be seen as creating and sharing<br />

value for members. Lower prices may<br />

reduce income from sales, but they can<br />

benefit members and they may spend<br />

more. Similarly, a more diverse range<br />

of products could be what members<br />

want. Proximity could mean that a co<strong>op</strong><br />

chooses to <strong>op</strong>erate in communities<br />

where no other retailer would, providing<br />

benefits to local members. Principles<br />

underpin the ethical choices that a co<strong>op</strong><br />

makes – whether that’s Fairtrade,<br />

packaging or campaigns.<br />

All of these are choices, and all of them<br />

are ways of returning value to members –<br />

the ultimate purpose of consumer co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

But how do they decide which choices<br />

to make and that they are fair? How do<br />

they balance the interests of the most<br />

motivated with the majority of members?<br />

This is particularly challenging for larger<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s. Look at any democracy to see how<br />

challenging it is to understand what pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

want and balance competing interests. <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s<br />

could use more deliberative systems,<br />

often with elected members’ councils to<br />

make these decisions, but they risk being<br />

unrepresentative or disconnected from<br />

the wider membership. Direct democracy<br />

is another <strong>op</strong>tion, but narrow majorities<br />

can dominate. Digital technology <strong>op</strong>ens<br />

up <strong>op</strong>portunities for more distributed<br />

decision-making, letting individual<br />

members take responsibility and decide<br />

for themselves – with mobile apps we<br />

could bring co-<strong>op</strong>eration into every living<br />

room and workplace.<br />

This brings me to the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Retail conference in Cheshire. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s will<br />

only be successful if they remain relevant<br />

to current and future generations. As the<br />

youngest-ever vice-president of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Group’s Members’ <strong>Co</strong>uncil, I’ll be joining<br />

the debate. Our movement has a huge<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to harness its heritage, values<br />

and principles – but it must align with<br />

what young pe<strong>op</strong>le care about.<br />

Our ethical choices and campaigns<br />

should focus on treating pe<strong>op</strong>le fairly,<br />

tackling climate change and reforming<br />

broken markets – a call back to co<strong>op</strong>eration’s<br />

radical roots. But it will all<br />

be for nothing if young pe<strong>op</strong>le don’t<br />

understand what we’re trying to say. Our<br />

movement can’t afford to keep speaking<br />

to itself in its own language. As well as<br />

rethinking how we can be relevant, we<br />

must also challenge ourselves to more<br />

effectively communicate our co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

difference. We can start by making it<br />

easier for the next generation to join in<br />

with these important debates.<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 25

From Crisis to <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>:<br />

Future <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s <strong>2023</strong><br />

by Rebecca Harvey<br />

Illustratrion: paraphrase.studio<br />

“The best way to demonstrate that co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

are effective is to see them in action,” said<br />

Jo White, <strong>op</strong>ening the <strong>2023</strong> Future <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

conference: From Crisis to <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

Organised in Oxford by co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

agency <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Futures, the event looked<br />

at how co-<strong>op</strong>s and communities can address<br />

the lack of access to basic needs – including<br />

housing, food, energy, secure employment and<br />

digital access – in a fair, equitable, dignified and<br />

culturally appr<strong>op</strong>riate way.<br />

Elizabeth Anderson from the Digital Poverty<br />

Alliance (DPA) painted a stark picture. Over 10<br />

million pe<strong>op</strong>le lack foundational digital skills –<br />

with 2 million over-75s digitally excluded, and<br />

35% of young pe<strong>op</strong>le reporting that they cannot<br />

do everything they need to online because of<br />

limits to their family’s data allowance. Around<br />

6% of UK households have no internet access.<br />

“Being online or offline isn’t a distinction we<br />

can make,” said Anderson, highlighting how<br />

without internet access, a child may not be<br />

able to do homework that has been set online,<br />

some pe<strong>op</strong>le will be excluded from booking GP<br />

appointments, or a family may not be able to<br />

search for cheaper electricity tariffs.<br />

DPA is advocating for change by bringing<br />

communities together and running projects<br />

for potentially excluded groups, including<br />

families, teachers and prison-leavers, building<br />

the business case for why it is so important to<br />

get online.<br />

“The rush to digital is leaving pe<strong>op</strong>le behind,”<br />

said Anderson. “The co-<strong>op</strong> movement must seize<br />

this chance to invest in community locations<br />

with devices, connectivity, skills and support.”<br />

Devices, skills and data don’t work without<br />

each other, warned Kat Dixon, a digital inclusion<br />

advocate and fellow at the Data Poverty Lab.<br />

“The internet isn’t a thing, it’s a means to an<br />

end,” she said, giving examples of effective<br />

digital inclusion projects, from Chipping Barnet<br />

food bank providing six months of free data via<br />

sim cards provided by the National Data Bank, to<br />

a volunteers in Lancashire who dug cable lines<br />

and set up their own service provider (B4rn).<br />

“The idea of spaces for digital access is also<br />

interesting,” she said. “Pe<strong>op</strong>le need physical<br />

spaces to learn skills – similar to the original co<strong>op</strong><br />

reading rooms above co-<strong>op</strong> sh<strong>op</strong>s – but also<br />

private spaces to live their intimate lives online.”<br />

The conference also heard from Claude<br />

Hendrickson who in 2020 became the only black<br />

male accredited community-led housing advisor<br />

in the UK. “Pe<strong>op</strong>le need a roof,” he said, adding<br />

that “the anguish communities are feeling now<br />

makes me feel like we’re back in the 70s: strikes,<br />

the lack of food, dereliction, communities with<br />

no h<strong>op</strong>e or aspiration.”<br />

Hendrickson was project manager on the<br />

Frontline community self-build scheme in Leeds<br />

which in 1996 saw 12 unemployed Afro Caribbean<br />

men and their families build new homes for<br />

26 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

Photography: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Futures<br />

themselves. He is now calling for co-<strong>op</strong>s to help<br />

solve the housing crisis through community-led<br />

housing – and stressed the importance of selfhelp.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-housing, community land trusts, selfbuilds,<br />

custom-builds – these are all a form of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration,” he said. “No matter what we do<br />

to make a change, when pe<strong>op</strong>le come together in<br />

the community, that’s a co-<strong>op</strong>erative.”<br />

John Reacher from Fuel Poverty Action (FPA)<br />

described his organisation’s campaign against<br />

the forced installation of prepayment meters.<br />

It is now advocating for the implementation of<br />

a universal free band of energy, based on need,<br />

and has organised a series of direct actions,<br />

including vigils and ‘warm ups’, where pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

occupy public spaces – such as banks and<br />

sh<strong>op</strong>ping centres – to get warm.<br />

“We want energy supported as a universal<br />

right,” he said. “All these crises are interlinked.<br />

The millennial generation is predicated by<br />

precarity. We can’t save for the future or put down<br />

roots – that’s standard for anyone born in the 80s<br />

upwards. Poverty makes pe<strong>op</strong>le invisible; the<br />

effect of poverty is that you have to hunker down.<br />

The worse the poverty, the less you hear about it.”<br />

This was a common theme: the<br />

acknowledgement that crises around food,<br />

energy and housing are an intrinsically linked<br />

everyday reality, and often share overlapping<br />

solutions. That it’s a situation of poverty that<br />

cuts across sectors, regions and demographics.<br />

One place where this is abundantly clear is<br />

South Kilburn, in north west London. One of<br />

the most ethnically diverse areas in the country,<br />

with 400 languages spoken, it has multiple<br />

indices of deprivation. Deirdre Woods, a cofounder<br />

of Granville <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Kitchen (GCK),<br />

spoke about how the organisation was set up 30<br />

years ago by residents to address the entrenched<br />

deprivation in the area.<br />

“We looked at all aspects of what a<br />

neighbourhood needs to be resilient,” said<br />

Woods, explaining that GCK is part of a larger<br />

multi-stakeholder co-<strong>op</strong>erative, alongside a<br />

housing co-<strong>op</strong>, a mutual support fund and an<br />

educational charity.<br />

“There is no such thing as food poverty; there<br />

is poverty, and pe<strong>op</strong>le are hungry. We are not in<br />

a food crisis; we are in a crisis of inequity and<br />

inequality. But [the Kilburn community] started<br />

with food as most pe<strong>op</strong>le are impacted by<br />

household food insecurity. And they have food<br />

insecurity because they are cash poor because<br />

income levels are insufficient. The government<br />

is violating our right to food right now.”<br />

England as a country is also food insecure,<br />

added Woods, who is policy co-ordinator for<br />

the Land Workers Alliance. “We import half our<br />

food. There are not enough farmers or pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

entering farming, so GCK is also training pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

from an agro-ecological point of view. It’s a<br />

whole system, about pe<strong>op</strong>le, culture, care and<br />

reducing waste.”<br />

GCK started with free or low-cost meals,<br />

particularly to women, children, families and<br />

disabled pe<strong>op</strong>le, and runs a community garden<br />

and the Good Food Box – a radical weekly veg bag<br />

scheme which charges a range of prices based<br />

on ability to pay and is linked to Healthy Start<br />

vouchers. They also include veg appr<strong>op</strong>riate to<br />

different cultures: “No one else is providing<br />

foods that our communities want to eat”.<br />

During the pandemic, GCK began a food aid<br />

scheme, but at one point this was serving over<br />

1,200 pe<strong>op</strong>le a week, which was not sustainable.<br />

“Charity can’t feed pe<strong>op</strong>le, you need solidarity,”<br />

said Woods. “We now do a small scheme for<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le who can’t access public funds.”<br />

She challenged the co-<strong>op</strong> movement to<br />

slow down and not rush into unconsidered<br />

responses. “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives should move away<br />

from charitable food aid to co-create solutions<br />

with communities,” she said. “And particularly<br />

around food that is affordable, nutritious and<br />

culturally appr<strong>op</strong>riate.”<br />

u<br />

“No matter what<br />

we do to make<br />

a change, when<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le come<br />

together in the<br />

community,<br />

that’s a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative”<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 27

Photography: <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Futures<br />

Throughout the event, delegates also looked at<br />

the challenges in different sectors, extrapolating<br />

practical next steps – mapping available<br />

support, raising awareness of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

answers, finding ambassadors, building<br />

capacity and raising new forms of capital. There<br />

was also the acknowledgement of the crossover<br />

of solutions: digital skills hubs could be linked<br />

with community hubs and places providing<br />

warm spaces; gatekeeping behaviours need to<br />

be challenged; and there was a call to support<br />

the movements and federations already active<br />

– including Energy For All, Workers.co<strong>op</strong>, Solid<br />

Fund and the Union-<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s movement.<br />

There were specifics, too. In housing, there<br />

was a call for centralised solutions to encourage<br />

existing owners of pr<strong>op</strong>erty or land to sell to the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> movement – potentially through a renting<br />

model. The worker co-<strong>op</strong> movement called for<br />

an international worker co-<strong>op</strong> meet-up and a<br />

rapid response unit to find <strong>op</strong>portunities within<br />

businesses being sold or in trouble.<br />

“Burnout is real, though,” said Nick Greenhill,<br />

director of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Web. “Pe<strong>op</strong>le who work in co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

want to give as much as they can. Sometimes<br />

that ends up being too much.”<br />

But as Kat Dixon added, co-<strong>op</strong>s also have the<br />

capacity to “bring joy to a difficult struggle”.<br />

From<br />

Below<br />

Ahead of the main conference, Future<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s hosted a public screening of<br />

From Below, a documentary showcasing<br />

mutual aid and grassroots community<br />

action during the pandemic.<br />

In a Q&A that followed, Dr Oli Mould,<br />

a geographer at Royal Holloway,<br />

University of London and producer and<br />

lead researcher on the project, said the<br />

term mutual aid was p<strong>op</strong>ularised by<br />

anarchist philos<strong>op</strong>her Peter Kr<strong>op</strong>otkin,<br />

who argued that co-<strong>op</strong>eration,<br />

not competition, was the driving<br />

mechanism behind evolution.<br />

“Pre-pandemic, mutual aid was<br />

seen as anti-capitalist, with a distinct<br />

role of over-throwing systems,” said<br />

Mould. “But during <strong>Co</strong>vid, there was a<br />

softening of that political edge.”<br />

In the USA, the term retains a radical<br />

anti-racist, anti-capitalist edge, he<br />

added. But in the UK, it now has<br />

three distinct narratives: mutual aid<br />

as charitable, contributory (such as<br />

Alcoholics Anonymous) or radical.<br />

Also speaking was Nigel Carter from<br />

Oxford <strong>Co</strong>mmunuity Action (OCA),<br />

a black multi-ethnic mutual aid<br />

organisation formed in 2019 on the back<br />

of community participatory research<br />

into men’s health. This research, by<br />

Healthwatch Oxfordshire, found that<br />

the disparity of life expectancy for men<br />

in north Oxford and the south and east<br />

areas of the city was 15 years.<br />

“The report anticipated some of the<br />

issues that came out of the pandemic,<br />

including how it dispr<strong>op</strong>ortionately<br />

impacted the BME communities, many<br />

of whom were frontline workers,” he<br />

said. “There is a link to stigma here<br />

too,” he added, “and links to dignity<br />

and the right to food.”<br />

The OCA is “less food redistribution<br />

centre, more cultural hub,” he said,<br />

adding that the organisation has<br />

maintained a genuine sense of mutual<br />

aid “by focusing on pe<strong>op</strong>le acting in<br />

solidarity to meet specific local needs”.<br />

“Without this focus, there is a danger<br />

that activity can be co-<strong>op</strong>ted by bigger<br />

organisations, diverted to a different<br />

direction or the values can be diluted,”<br />

he warned. “You also need to be<br />

cognisant of what tradition you’re from<br />

and the traditions you’re in.”<br />

He gave the example of the Black<br />

Lives Matter movement, and reminded<br />

delegates that this is the 75th anniversary<br />

of Windrush. “They brought solidarity<br />

economics and the values of mutual<br />

aid from the Caribbean,” he said. “They<br />

brought Susu, or partner systems [type<br />

of informal savings club arrangement<br />

between a small group of pe<strong>op</strong>le] and<br />

local credit unions.”<br />

He added: What is important from<br />

grassroots organising is to come back to<br />

the values of pe<strong>op</strong>le and collective, but<br />

you also need a steady flow of<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le with ideas and passion.”<br />

28 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

UKSCS conference<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nsumer co-<strong>op</strong>s as actors for change<br />

by Miles Hadfield<br />

q Lincolnshire<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s <strong>Co</strong>rhill<br />

Quarter devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

With the world facing urgent crises around<br />

issues such as the environment, food and new<br />

tech, the co-<strong>op</strong> movement is among those<br />

jockeying for position to offer a way forward –<br />

notably in terms the United Nations’ sustainable<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment goals (SDGs).<br />

But where do consumer co-<strong>op</strong>s – often<br />

mistaken by casual sh<strong>op</strong>pers as conventional<br />

supermarket businesses – fit into this? This<br />

question was at the forefront of discussions at<br />

last weekend’s conference of the UK Society<br />

for <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Studies (UKSCS) in LIncoln,<br />

which presented academic research alongside<br />

presentations from prominent co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

The event was held on the home turf of<br />

Lincolnshire <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, which sponsored the<br />

event and showed off its substantial efforts to<br />

regenerate the local economy. It hosted site<br />

visits to two major Lincoln devel<strong>op</strong>ments it has<br />

spearheaded – the state-of-the-art Science and<br />

Innovation Park and the <strong>Co</strong>rnhill Quarter, which<br />

has refurbished a historic part of the town with<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erties owned by the co-<strong>op</strong> retned out to<br />

retail and hospitality businesses.<br />

Lincolnshire was among the retail co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

making presentations to the first day of the<br />

conference. Head of membership Laura Dunne<br />

and CFO/acting CEO Steve Galjaard said<br />

retail co-<strong>op</strong>s are joining a societal move from<br />

consumerism to citizenship.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration in our world is about bringing<br />

together partners to make life better for<br />

communities,” said Dunne. “This is especially<br />

important for a regional co-<strong>op</strong> like us.”<br />

Lincolnshire’s twin flagship devel<strong>op</strong>ments<br />

are not the only brick-and-mortar evidence of<br />

how this can play out: the society has worked<br />

with communities and members to improve<br />

local infrastructure – rowing back on plans to<br />

redevel<strong>op</strong> a pub in its estate portfolio after locals<br />

protested; instead it helped them buy the site<br />

as a community pub. Other projects include an<br />

upgrade to a GP surgery and the creation of a coworking<br />

space.<br />

u<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 29

q Francesca<br />

Gagliardi; facing<br />

page, Lakshmi Jayan<br />

From Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, CEO Debbie Robinson<br />

talked the conference through the society’s<br />

rebrand, which included the ad<strong>op</strong>tion of the<br />

international co-<strong>op</strong> marque. This fits with<br />

Central’s activist role, notable in supporting<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment in Malawi; Robinson suggested<br />

the retail co-<strong>op</strong> movement could join forces to<br />

build on this work and even a small commitment<br />

– perhaps 0.02% of all co-<strong>op</strong> sales in the UK –<br />

could generate millions for devel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

Meanwhile, Central continues its efforts on<br />

colleague pay, energy sustainability – more<br />

pressing now that soaring electricity costs have<br />

added £25m to its bills – and store upgrades,<br />

which offer more public amenity in terms<br />

of green spaces and benches, child-feeding<br />

stations and EV charging points. “As co-<strong>op</strong>s we<br />

can really lead on the journey towards 15-minute<br />

liveable communities,” said Robinson.<br />

In driving these co-<strong>op</strong> efforts, member<br />

engagement is crucial; Tara Simmons from<br />

Midcounties said that for her society, youth is an<br />

important part of this, with three elected places<br />

on the society’s member engagement committee.<br />

Members were also given a leading role as<br />

the society devel<strong>op</strong>ed its five-year sustainability<br />

plan; and helped by innovations like tyhe Your<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> app, the society has seen 55,000 instances<br />

in a year of members engaging in some way<br />

other than sh<strong>op</strong>ping. The goal, said Simmons, is<br />

to double that.<br />

From the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group, Mark Robinson-<br />

Field agreed that the shift to citizen culture is<br />

tech-driven, with brands and organisations<br />

expected to offer simple forms of participation.<br />

The Group has spent the last five years looking<br />

into this, and members came back with a desire<br />

for participation in terms of learning, choosing<br />

causes to support, campaigning on issues like<br />

mental wellbeing, and co-creating products and<br />

services. In 2022 there were 1.9 million instances<br />

of member engagement, he added.<br />

In the <strong>op</strong>en floor discussion that followed<br />

youth was identified as the key priority. “We need<br />

to communicate differently to younger pe<strong>op</strong>le in<br />

language they understand about membership,”<br />

said Tara Simmons, who warned that young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le often f ound t he n otion o f m embership<br />

as “hierarchical”. Nick Matthews from Heart of<br />

England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> said it would be useful in that<br />

sense to “think of co-<strong>op</strong>s as a web of connections<br />

rather than a pyramid”.<br />

Tanya Noon from Central said her society<br />

had carried out extensive school engagement.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s also do isocial media engagement but,<br />

warned Robinson-Field, “unless we’re clear<br />

on the meaning of ownership it doesn’t matter.<br />

We are trying to sell something as staunch co<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

to pe<strong>op</strong>le who aren’t going to take the<br />

time to close the gap in understanding.”<br />

The second day of the conference put<br />

this discussion into wider context with the<br />

presentation of new scholarship on the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

sector. Historian Andrew Bibby presented his<br />

new book on the pre-1919 tenant co-<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

movement – an under-acknowledged model<br />

of housing co-<strong>op</strong> (see p48-49).<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> historian Tony Webster, from<br />

Northumbria University, presented his study<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nsumer <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration in the 21st Century: Some<br />

Examples of Strategic Renewal, including fresh<br />

discussion of the history of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group.<br />

The flaw of the Group’s strategic renewal<br />

between 2000-13 was that it focused on<br />

acquisition over governance expertise, he said.<br />

This triggered the Group’s near-collapse but the<br />

sell-offs that followed have made planning for<br />

renewal easier, as there is “less to think about”.<br />

The governance changes that went with this<br />

have brought more commercial knowledge and<br />

skills to the board but there is less power over<br />

management, he added. But an improved retail<br />

offer has empowered the Group to launch major<br />

initiatives like its campaign on loneliness; and<br />

this gives members more influence over activism.<br />

Strategic renewals have played out differently<br />

in other countries, said Webster. In France there<br />

30 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

has been a movement-wide renewal, with the<br />

emergence of small consumer co-<strong>op</strong>s, with an<br />

emphasis on quality and sustainability.<br />

In South Korea, change was driven in response<br />

to concern over the purity and sustainability of<br />

food; lessons here suggest that strategic renewal<br />

should be flexible and incremental, not a “big<br />

bang”, said Webster. Pointing to examples of<br />

what can go wrong – such as Finland’s E Group,<br />

which hit trouble after o pting f or a t <strong>op</strong>-down,<br />

thinly spread, diversified international model<br />

– he warned: “No plan survives contact with<br />

reality … they have to be flexible plans”.<br />

Jeevan Jones, vice president of the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

National Members <strong>Co</strong>uncil (see p25) said<br />

the member-led model offers a commercial<br />

advantage because “we can find out what they<br />

want and act on that insight”.<br />

Presenting the Group’s own research, he said<br />

there is more to member economic value than<br />

traditional divi model – in terms of special prices<br />

for members, products that only a co-<strong>op</strong> can<br />

offer, proximity to locations where other retailers<br />

do not want to <strong>op</strong>erate, and principles – such as<br />

Fairtrade or a living wage,.<br />

Rory Ridley Duff, from Sheffield Hallam<br />

University, gave an overview of a recent series of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> seminars which suggested a reinvigorated<br />

radical edge to the movement with grassroots<br />

activism leading to new co-<strong>op</strong>s or other form of<br />

association. New forms of consumer co-<strong>op</strong> are<br />

rising in housing, leisure and sports, he said.<br />

“It’s not a big economic contribution but it’s a<br />

big grassroots activity.”<br />

One rising area of activity for consumer co<strong>op</strong><br />

was discussed by Steve Graby, from the<br />

University of Leeds, who looked at personal<br />

assistants for disabled pe<strong>op</strong>le. The prevailing<br />

model for delivering personal austonomy sees<br />

disabled pe<strong>op</strong>le given money by the state to<br />

employ personal assistants but this has led<br />

to concern over how to handle issues like tax,<br />

training and employment law. One answer is<br />

to form consumer co-<strong>op</strong>s owned by disabled<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le which employ PAs; successful examples<br />

include Stockholm Indepented Living (STIL) in<br />

Sweden and Uloba in Norway.<br />

The shadow of the pandemic still hangs over<br />

the consumer co-<strong>op</strong> and its role in society and<br />

Claude-André Guillotte, from the University of<br />

Sherbrooke in Quebec, looked at the impact of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid-19 on the Canadian co-<strong>op</strong> sector.<br />

He found that co-<strong>op</strong> businesses had<br />

maintained themselves successfully during the<br />

crisis despite a hit to revenue. It is important to<br />

talk about organisational resilience as a process,<br />

he said: how do you c<strong>op</strong>e with a crisis, how<br />

do you adapt? <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s have social resources –<br />

members, employees, their relationships with<br />

clients, suppliers) – and also interco-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

resources in the shape of co-<strong>op</strong> federations.<br />

Looking at the SDGSs, Francesca Gagliardi,<br />

from the University of Hertfordshire, and Rory<br />

Ridley Duff presented their study on how these<br />

tie in with the co-<strong>op</strong>erative principles.<br />

“It goes without saying in this room that we<br />

know co-<strong>op</strong>s are important in the SDG agenda,”<br />

said Gagliardi, “but it does not go without saying<br />

in every room.”<br />

With a billion co-<strong>op</strong>erators around the world<br />

and a close congruence between the co-<strong>op</strong> values<br />

and principles and the SDG agenda, the message<br />

is obvious but co-<strong>op</strong>s focus too much on their<br />

own members and communities, she said.<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>s<br />

can remedy this by stressing their potential<br />

as institutions for collective action; and their<br />

“polycentricity” – the valuable position they<br />

occupy at the centre of complex systems. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

should collaborate to report their successes at<br />

sectoral rather than individual level, she added.<br />

One way to to demonstrate the co-<strong>op</strong> effort<br />

on SDGs was suggested by Lakshmi Jayan, from<br />

Sree Narayana <strong>Co</strong>llege, India, who presented<br />

her work with Abilash Unny (Price Waterhouse<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>ers, UK) and Raju G (University of<br />

Kerala (India), on the concept of a <strong>Co</strong>nsumer<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Playbook. This would be a digital<br />

knowledge sharing platform which would see<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s supply data on their work which would<br />

be made accessible to users via AI technology.<br />

This would need high levels of investment<br />

and collaboration, she warned, but sectoral<br />

organisations such as the ICA, ILO and Euricse,<br />

and large co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, could all contribute.<br />

“It goes without<br />

saying in this<br />

room that we<br />

know co-<strong>op</strong>s are<br />

important in the<br />

SDG agenda, but<br />

it does not go<br />

without saying<br />

in every room”<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 31

Fairtrade Fortnight <strong>2023</strong><br />

highlights climate crisis<br />

Over 27 February –<br />

12 <strong>March</strong> <strong>2023</strong>, the<br />

Fairtrade Foundation<br />

is spotlighting the<br />

effects of climate<br />

change on the future<br />

of our food<br />

Fairtrade<br />

Fortnight will<br />

see individuals,<br />

community<br />

groups and<br />

businesses<br />

taking action<br />

across the two<br />

weeks, from<br />

film screenings<br />

to fun runs<br />

to Fairtrade<br />

tea parties<br />

This Fairtrade Fortnight, co-<strong>op</strong>erators are invited<br />

to celebrate, promote and buy Fairtrade certified<br />

products to protect the world’s most p<strong>op</strong>ular<br />

foods, such as bananas, cocoa, and coffee.<br />

Over 27 February – 12 <strong>March</strong> <strong>2023</strong>, the<br />

Fairtrade Foundation and partners will highlight<br />

the effects of climate change on the future of our<br />

food, and how buying Fairtrade products can<br />

help.<br />

On 28 February, Fairtrade will launch the<br />

‘Endangered Aisle’, a p<strong>op</strong>-up experience in<br />

London’s Shoreditch that will shine a light on<br />

the supermarket staples most at risk of becoming<br />

endangered from the climate crisis, including<br />

coffee, bananas and chocolate. The experience<br />

will be <strong>op</strong>en to the public on 28 February, 1<br />

<strong>March</strong> and 2 <strong>March</strong>.<br />

Fairtrade will also release new research on the<br />

effects of climate change on the availability of<br />

supermarket staples, which will be showcased<br />

at the Endangered Aisle and online, along with<br />

‘Stories of H<strong>op</strong>e’ - examples of farmers that are<br />

working to protect their harvests from climate<br />

change.<br />

Jackie Marshall, head of brand and marketing<br />

at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Fairtrade<br />

Fortnight highlights the urgent threat to the future<br />

of British staples produced overseas. Without<br />

our support for fairer prices today, farmers will<br />

find it even harder to tackle the climate and<br />

economic challenges of the future.<br />

“Smallholder farmers have a critical role<br />

in addressing climate change and have the<br />

expertise and knowledge to do so – but they<br />

simply can’t afford to foot the bill for adapting<br />

to economic and climate change on their current<br />

incomes. There is a huge amount we can all do.<br />

Fairtrade is asking each and every one of us to<br />

act now and sh<strong>op</strong> Fairtrade so farmers can<br />

keep going through these tough times. ”<br />

Fairtrade Fortnight will see individuals,<br />

community groups and businesses taking action<br />

across the two weeks, from film screenings to fun<br />

runs to Fairtrade tea parties.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Group will host activities<br />

both online and in its stores across the country,<br />

including Fairtrade treasure hunts, giveaways,<br />

film and poster displays. On Monday 27 February,<br />

Fairtrade representatives will come together with<br />

members in Enfield, London, for an event with<br />

the local mayor, Doris Jiagge, and staff will hold<br />

an interactive arcade game event in the Salford<br />

store in Greater Manchester.<br />

Individuals can get involved by joining one<br />

of these events, as well as signing up to one of<br />

Fairtrade’s online Big Get Togethers, featuring<br />

Fairtrade farmers and experts.<br />

Pe<strong>op</strong>le can also spread the word using the<br />

Fairtrade Fortnight Resource Library on the<br />

Fairtrade Foundation website, which includes<br />

campaigner toolkits, social media graphics and<br />

videos.<br />

“This year’s campaign will highlight the<br />

message that whatever your budget and wherever<br />

you sh<strong>op</strong>, when you choose Fairtrade, you<br />

support farmers to take care of the environment<br />

through Fairtrade’s Price, Premium and<br />

Programmes,” says the Fairtrade Foundation.<br />

For more information visit:<br />

fairtrade.org.uk/get-involved/currentcampaigns/fairtrade-fortnight<br />

Labels to look out for<br />

The FAIRTRADE Mark can be<br />

found on single-ingredient<br />

fair trade products such as<br />

bananas and coffee. It also<br />

means the product is fully traceable<br />

(kept separate from non-certified<br />

products) from farm to shelf.<br />

A FAIRTRADE Mark with<br />

an arrow indicates to<br />

look on the back of the<br />

packaging to learn more<br />

about the ingredients<br />

and sourcing method.<br />

The FAIRTRADE Gold<br />

Mark indicates that all<br />

of the gold used in an<br />

item has been fairly<br />

extracted and traded, as<br />

well as being traceable<br />

throughout the supply<br />

chain.<br />

32 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

You can find Fairtrade staples like coffee, tea and bananas in your local retail<br />

society – or for something a bit different, check out these Fairtrade finds…<br />

Food & drink<br />

Organic Fairtrade<br />

mango from Tr<strong>op</strong>ical<br />

Wholefoods £3.20<br />

equalexchange.co.uk<br />

Hair & body<br />

Raw almonds from<br />

Zaytoun £5.40<br />

zaytoun.uk<br />

<strong>Co</strong>conut water from<br />

Dr Martins £3.29 drmartins.com<br />

Fairtrade fizz<br />

from Karma<br />

Drinks<br />

From £1.55<br />

karmadrinks.co.u<br />

k<br />

Tech<br />

Steenbergs Fairtrade<br />

Organic Mixed Spice<br />

£2.80<br />

steenbergs.co.uk<br />

Apricot body soap<br />

for sensitive skin £7.95<br />

fairsquared.com<br />

Body butter with<br />

Fairtrade Shea butter<br />

£13.99<br />

honeystreethandmade.com<br />

Goddess of Luck<br />

lemongrass bath salts<br />

£15.96<br />

fair2.me<br />

Fairphone - the first and<br />

only smartphone company<br />

to be Fairtrade gold certified<br />

£499<br />

fairphone.com<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ntinued overleaf<br />


<strong>Co</strong>tton Mark<br />

indicates that all<br />

of the cotton in an<br />

item has been fairly produced and<br />

traded, and is directly traceable<br />

through all stages of production<br />

and separated from non-Fairtrade<br />

cotton during processing.<br />

The FAIRTRADE Textile Standard<br />

signifies ethical production of a<br />

textile or piece of clothing.<br />

The white FAIRTRADE Sourced Ingredient Marks<br />

indicate a named ingredient has been sourced<br />

as Fairtrade within a product containing multiple<br />

ingredients, e.g. Fairtrade sugar in a chocolate bar<br />

(doesn’t apply to coffee and bananas).<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 33

Clothing<br />

Hoodie made with 80%<br />

Organic Fairtrade <strong>Co</strong>tton<br />

£32.81<br />

cottonroots.co.uk<br />

Jewellery<br />

Fairtrade yellow gold<br />

almond stud earrings<br />

£92.00<br />

lebrusanstudio.com<br />

100% Organic &<br />

Fairtrade babygrow<br />

£38.00<br />

littlegreenradicals.com<br />

Home<br />

Organic Fairtrade bedding<br />

from Lily & Mortimer<br />

from £40<br />

lilymortimer.com<br />

Eucalyptus ring handmade from<br />

Fairtrade sterling silver and 24ct<br />

Fairtrade gold vermeil £136<br />

lizearlejewellery.com<br />

Space to<br />

work<br />

Space to<br />

grow<br />

Space for<br />

change<br />

Leading the movement in workspaces for those who lead the change,<br />

with spaces currently available to rent<br />

Visit www.ethicalpr<strong>op</strong>erty.co.uk Email sales@ethicalpr<strong>op</strong>erty.co.uk or call 01865 207 810 to find out more<br />

34 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and USA Black History Month:<br />

‘<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> history is Black history’<br />

by Rebecca Harvey<br />

Black History Month is an annual observance in<br />

the United States that takes place in February – a<br />

month-long celebration of the achievements and<br />

contributions of African Americans to the nation’s<br />

past, culture, and society.<br />

Like the UK celebration, which takes place in<br />

October, Black History Month sees events and<br />

activities held to honour the legacies of notable<br />

African American figures, and explore the<br />

experiences and struggles of African Americans<br />

throughout history. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s have played an<br />

important role in the history of African Americans<br />

and their pursuit of economic and social justice;<br />

during the early 20th century, co-<strong>op</strong>s were used<br />

as a means of economic empowerment and<br />

community building among African Americans,<br />

who were often excluded from mainstream<br />

financial institutions and faced discrimination in<br />

the labour market.<br />

The Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU),<br />

for example, was established in the 1930s to<br />

represent the interests of sharecr<strong>op</strong>pers and<br />

tenant farmers in the Southern United States,<br />

many of whom were African American. The<br />

STFU established a network of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives that<br />

provided access to credit, technical assistance,<br />

and marketing support to its members, helping<br />

them to improve their economic conditions and<br />

gain greater control over their lives. That tradition<br />

continues today with the Federation of Southern<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives, which provides resources and<br />

technical assistance to limited-resource Black<br />

farmers and landowners.<br />

In more recent years, US co-<strong>op</strong>s have also<br />

focused on promoting economic devel<strong>op</strong>ment and<br />

building wealth, providing access to affordable<br />

housing, healthy food, and other essential services<br />

in underserved neighbourhoods. But, as the New<br />

Economy <strong>Co</strong>alition (NEC) reminds us, whatever the<br />

sector, “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> History is Black History”.<br />

“​From mutual aid societies to freedom farms<br />

and credit unions, Black communities have<br />

been using co-<strong>op</strong>erative economics as a tool for<br />

collective liberation, self-determination, and<br />

to resist the violence of racial capitalism for<br />

centuries. What we call the ‘solidarity economy’<br />

wouldn’t exist without this history and practice.<br />

We honour these legacies, and celebrate the<br />

radical Black co-<strong>op</strong>erators in our network and<br />

around the world who continue to lead the<br />

solidarity economy movement and make new and<br />

liberatory worlds possible every day.”<br />

NEC is a membership-based network<br />

representing the solidarity economy movement in<br />

the United States. It recently published a resource<br />

list for anyone wanting to learn more about Black<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> history – and between December 2022 and<br />

January <strong>2023</strong>, its Black Solidarity Economy Fund<br />

working group redistributed US$300,000 to 51<br />

Black-led solidarity economy projects.<br />

“Black co-<strong>op</strong>erative economics has delivered<br />

justice, prosperity, and security when it has been<br />

systematically denied to Black communities. All<br />

this has occurred despite a system that denies<br />

Black communities critical access in the realm<br />

of funding, ideas, leadership, and capacitybuilding,”<br />

says NEC, describing the fund.<br />

“Guided by our Black-led member organisations<br />

and a sincere desire to take immediate concrete<br />

steps towards rectifying this inequity, we are<br />

acting to redistribute the power of money and<br />

ideas by investing a portion of our budget to<br />

support the power of Black-led organisations,<br />

organisers, and ideas – which are too often<br />

ignored, silenced, and appr<strong>op</strong>riated.”<br />

To access the NEC’s ‘<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> History is<br />

Black History’ resource list, visit bit.ly/3Y5umly<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 35

Women and the<br />

digital divide<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erating for a fairer digital future<br />

“Globally,<br />

women earn<br />

only 77 cents<br />

for every US<br />

dollar earned<br />

by men”<br />

by Rebecca Harvey<br />

p Under the theme<br />

“DigitALL: Innovation<br />

and technology for<br />

gender equality”,<br />

the United Nations<br />

Observance of<br />

International<br />

Women’s Day <strong>2023</strong><br />

will highlight the<br />

need for inclusive<br />

and transformative<br />

technology and digital<br />

education. Image:<br />

UN Trust Fund/Phil<br />

Borges<br />

International Women’s Day – 8 <strong>March</strong> – is a<br />

global celebration of women’s social, economic,<br />

cultural, and political achievements. It is also a<br />

day to raise awareness about gender inequality.<br />

Despite progress in some areas, women<br />

around the world continue to face barriers to<br />

full participation in society, with gender-based<br />

discrimination and violence persisting in<br />

many forms. These challenges are particularly<br />

acute for women and girls in low-income<br />

countries, indigenous communities and<br />

marginalised groups.<br />

Globally, women earn only 77 cents for<br />

every US dollar earned by men. Moreover,<br />

women comprise only 24% of parliamentarians<br />

worldwide and hold only 23% of senior<br />

management positions globally. There are<br />

also significant issues around digital poverty,<br />

with women often dispr<strong>op</strong>ortionately affected<br />

by a lack of access to digital devices, data or<br />

skills – essential to participate fully in modern<br />

life. This has been recognised by the <strong>2023</strong> UN<br />

International Women’s Day (IWD <strong>2023</strong>) theme:<br />

“DigitALL: Innovation and technology for<br />

gender equality”.<br />

Women, particularly those in low-income<br />

countries and marginalised communities,<br />

often have less access to technology and digital<br />

platforms, which limits their ability to generate<br />

and utilise data. This can result in data gaps<br />

that affect their ability to access services, make<br />

informed decisions, and participate in decisionmaking<br />

processes. Women’s lack of representation<br />

in data collection and analysis can also result in<br />

biases and assumptions that perpetuate gender<br />

stereotypes and discrimination.<br />

Last year Kat Dixon, Fellow of the Data Poverty<br />

Lab, published a report – Local communities and<br />

the internet ecosystem: Scaling solutions to data<br />

poverty in the UK – which explored the impact<br />

of data poverty on local communities. Dixon<br />

recently spoke at the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong> Futures <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

36 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

(see coverage from p26), where she highlighted<br />

the dispr<strong>op</strong>ortionate impact of data poverty on<br />

disadvantaged groups, including women, pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

with disabilities, and those living in poverty. She<br />

argued that “addressing data poverty is essential<br />

for promoting social inclusion and tackling<br />

inequalities”.<br />

Although Dixon’s report is based on UK<br />

research, the conclusions are universal. “Getting<br />

everyone the internet access they need has to<br />

be a collective effort,” she says. “In tackling<br />

data poverty – those being left behind by this<br />

system – regulation and subsidy must work<br />

collaboratively with industry to harness market<br />

forces and find a delicate balance that services<br />

all UK citizens. This will help us move into the<br />

future and bring everyone with us.”<br />

According to the<br />

Digital <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eration<br />

Organization (DCO – a<br />

global intergovernmental<br />

organisation that<br />

aims to enable digital<br />

prosperity for all),<br />

women are significantly<br />

underrepresented in jobs<br />

involving science, technology, engineering, and<br />

mathematics (STEM). Globally, they hold only<br />

two in every 10 STEM jobs and represent just 33%<br />

of the workforce at the t<strong>op</strong> 20 largest technology<br />

companies. It too sees collaboration and co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

as key.<br />

“It’s increasingly essential for stakeholders in<br />

the digital economy to come together and shape<br />

a more inclusive vision for our shared digital<br />

economic future,” says Deemah AlYahya, DCO<br />

secretary-general.<br />

She describes how there are several<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration models that governments,<br />

organisations, and multilateral organisations<br />

can ad<strong>op</strong>t to work together to enable digital<br />

prosperity, from co-designing initiatives to<br />

accelerate connectivity and increase accessibility<br />

and affordability, to working collaboratively<br />

to devel<strong>op</strong> innovation-friendly policies and<br />

facilitate dialogue to share best practices around<br />

digital transformation.<br />

The UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 report<br />

showed that women’s exclusion from the digital<br />

world has shaved US$1tn from the gross domestic<br />

product of low- and middle-income countries in<br />

the last decade – a loss that will grow to $1.5tn<br />

by 2025 without action. Today, 63% of women<br />

have access to the internet, compared to 69%<br />

of men. And women are 12% less likely to own a<br />

mobile phone.<br />

“Digitalisation and ad<strong>op</strong>tion<br />

of technology has become<br />

integral for any enterprise<br />

to grow and can be driven<br />

by a lot of factors”<br />

As part of IWD <strong>2023</strong>, the International<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance’s Asia & Pacific regional<br />

office (ICA-AP) is hosting a virtual lecture to<br />

explore two themes: What do we mean by digital<br />

inclusion for women in co-<strong>op</strong> business? And<br />

how do we protect women’s rights and safety in<br />

digital spaces?<br />

“Digitalisation and ad<strong>op</strong>tion of technology<br />

has become integral for any enterprise to grow<br />

and can be driven by a lot of factors,” says ICA-<br />

AP. “For co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, this can be driven by<br />

evolving member needs, increasing competition<br />

in the market, changing business goals, and<br />

debilitating external shocks such as the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19<br />

pandemic. The pandemic has brought to the fore<br />

the significance of digitalisation and the need<br />

for digital inclusion for everyone, especially<br />

women and marginalised<br />

groups.”<br />

The lecture will be given<br />

by Anuradha Ganapathy<br />

and Malavika Rajkumar,<br />

two women associates at<br />

IT for Change, an NGO<br />

based in Bengaluru,<br />

India, which “aims for a<br />

society in which digital technologies contribute<br />

to human rights, social justice and equity”. They<br />

argue that women need to be a fundamental part<br />

of the shift towards digitalisation a s they form<br />

a large part of co-<strong>op</strong>erative businesses. And co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

businesses themselves are governed<br />

by the value of equality and the principle of<br />

educating and training everyone involved, so<br />

they can devel<strong>op</strong> the co-<strong>op</strong> and promote the<br />

benefits of co-<strong>op</strong>eration (principle 5).<br />

In the Asia and Pacific region, a large number<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>s are in rural areas where technology<br />

and data are not easily accessible, members<br />

may be semi-literate and are not trained or<br />

comfortable using technology, and women’s<br />

access to technology may be mediated by their<br />

families. In addition, ICA-AP believes members<br />

and management are middle-aged and often<br />

reluctant to switch and adapt.<br />

“But bringing women into technology will<br />

result in more creative solutions and will also<br />

have more potential for innovations promoting<br />

gender equality and meeting women’s needs,”<br />

says ICA-AP.<br />

The ICA-AP IWD <strong>2023</strong> Virtual Lecture on<br />

“DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender<br />

equality” takes place on Tuesday, 7 <strong>March</strong><br />

at 11am-12pm IST (5.30-7am GMT). To register,<br />

visit bit.ly/3F3cG3J<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 37

A co-<strong>op</strong> solution<br />

to securing better livelihoods<br />

for waste pickers<br />

by Anca Voinea<br />

p Marco Tulio Giraldo<br />

and his son Elkin<br />

Mauricio (image:<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa Planeta<br />

Verde)<br />

In a few months, Marco Tulio Giraldo, a 48-yearold<br />

waste picker from Ríonegro city in <strong>Co</strong>lombia,<br />

will be handed the keys to his first house. As a<br />

member owner of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa Planeta Verde,<br />

he has been able to save a deposit and secure a<br />

home as part of a government-funded housing<br />

subsidies programme.<br />

His son Elkin Mauricio, 21, who was a child<br />

when the family settled in the area after being<br />

displaced by the civil war, works with his father<br />

at the co-<strong>op</strong>, which has 94 member owners.<br />

“All my knowledge and training has been<br />

acquired through this co-<strong>op</strong>,” says Marco. “I<br />

feel so grateful for all the knowledge I was able<br />

to gain and for being able to support my family.<br />

Right now, I am a qualified forklift driver, welder<br />

and recycling centre assistant.<br />

“I feel very proud about this enterprise and<br />

my work as a waste picker. This is how I earn a<br />

living. Right now, I am very happy about being<br />

close to securing a home and this shows how<br />

much can be achieved by working here.”<br />

Planeta Verde was set up 22 years ago by a<br />

group of business administration students at<br />

the Catholic University Luis Amigo who wanted<br />

to create a business that made a difference and<br />

supported disadvantaged pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

“My fellow students and I were about to<br />

graduate and our dream was to generate<br />

employment for waste pickers by creating a co<strong>op</strong>erative,”<br />

says the co-<strong>op</strong>’s manager, Martha<br />

Elena Iglesias.<br />

Ríonegro is located in the Antioquia region,<br />

where tens of thousands of pe<strong>op</strong>le have been<br />

displaced as a result of the ongoing internal<br />

conflict. The UN Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Programme<br />

estimates 44% of Ríonegro’s p<strong>op</strong>ulation is poor.<br />

“Pe<strong>op</strong>le from villages came to the cities and<br />

the only job they could get was as waste pickers,”<br />

says Iglesias.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> was set up when the dump that<br />

served Medellin, the capital city of Antioquia,<br />

was due to close, leaving Ríonegro with no<br />

<strong>op</strong>tion to deal with its waste.<br />

“We thought it was an <strong>op</strong>portunity to formalise<br />

waste pickers and make a difference,” says<br />

Iglesias. “With workers coming from informal<br />

sector, it was difficult to convince them that<br />

together they could do more than individually.<br />

Waste pickers thought working by themselves<br />

was their only <strong>op</strong>tion but once they found out<br />

there were other possibilities, we were slowly<br />

able to convince them.”<br />

Another barrier was the stigma surrounding<br />

waste pickers. “They were regarded as worse<br />

38 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

than the waste they collected,” says Iglesias.<br />

“They were associated with drugs and crime,<br />

so we had to change the society’s view to<br />

understand these are honest pe<strong>op</strong>le, who are<br />

helping the planet while doing a difficult job.”<br />

A positive step in this direction was taken in<br />

2020, when, during the pandemic, waste pickers<br />

were recognised as essential workers. Since<br />

waste picker organisations are now recognised<br />

as a provider of public services, the co-<strong>op</strong> can<br />

receive a second payment in addition to the<br />

one received for selling the materials collected,<br />

allowing waste pickers to double their income.<br />

But the pandemic also tested the co-<strong>op</strong>’s<br />

resilience. Before the emergence of vaccines,<br />

exposure presented a high risk to waste pickers,<br />

especially those in vulnerable categories. So the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> decided that its 35 members over the age<br />

of 65 would isolate while the rest continued to<br />

work to guarantee an income for everyone.<br />

Solidarity did not st<strong>op</strong> here – the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

provided food parcels to those who were<br />

isolating, with additional donations from the<br />

families it served.<br />

“One of our members, Don Juan,<br />

who is 70, couldn’t go on his usual<br />

route because he had to isolate,”<br />

says Iglesias. “Pe<strong>op</strong>le from whom<br />

we would usually collect told the<br />

new waste picker they had saved<br />

their recyclables for him – and so<br />

they would give the new person<br />

what they had saved for him, along<br />

with money for him for food.<br />

“Pe<strong>op</strong>le collected for themselves<br />

but also put some of the waste into<br />

the joint collection for those unable to<br />

work. This type of solidarity was only<br />

possible because we are a co-<strong>op</strong>.”<br />

Despite these challenges, she<br />

thinks the pandemic let the co<strong>op</strong><br />

prove its worth. “Society<br />

understood that we had to continue to work<br />

otherwise the system would have collapsed.”<br />

After the pandemic the co-<strong>op</strong> felt a glimmer of<br />

h<strong>op</strong>e but rising inflation and the war in Ukraine<br />

led to higher petrol prices and <strong>op</strong>erational<br />

costs. To make matters worse, the co-<strong>op</strong> started<br />

receiving lower prices, with some recyclable<br />

materials dr<strong>op</strong>ping in export value. <strong>Co</strong>mpetition<br />

with private companies is also fierce, with big<br />

firms using the latest technology to pick up more<br />

waste. “When our colleagues take to the streets,<br />

sometimes there is nothing left,” says Iglesias.<br />

Still, the co-<strong>op</strong> is able to maintain its member<br />

benefits. These include providing some free<br />

“Pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

collected for<br />

themselves but<br />

also put some<br />

of the waste<br />

into the joint<br />

collection for<br />

those unable to<br />

work. This type<br />

of solidarity was<br />

only possible<br />

because we are<br />

a co-<strong>op</strong>”<br />

healthcare services such as glasses and<br />

dental prostheses, holiday bonuses, regular<br />

food parcels, social security and pensions. In<br />

December 2021 the co-<strong>op</strong> celebrated its first<br />

member retirement with a big party. Members<br />

also get training and skills: around 98% of its<br />

members can now read and write.<br />

Going forward, Iglesias says the co-<strong>op</strong> will<br />

focus on growth, and would like to be more<br />

involved in industrialisation processes, building<br />

on the 2,500 tons recycled by the co-<strong>op</strong> each<br />

year – 70% paper and cardboard, 15% plastics,<br />

10% metals and 5% glass.<br />

Another area of focus will be<br />

raising awareness of the role<br />

waste pickers play to ensure they<br />

are included when big decisions<br />

around recycling are taken by the<br />

government or local authorities.<br />

Research conducted by Women in<br />

Informal Employment: Globalizing<br />

and Organizing (Wiego) and its<br />

Inclusive Cities partners found<br />

the economic crisis caused a<br />

marked dr<strong>op</strong> in demand for and<br />

price for waste. At the same time,<br />

newly unemployed pe<strong>op</strong>le entered<br />

the profession creating more<br />

competition.<br />

Wiego’s regional coordinator for<br />

Latin America, Federico Parra, says that social<br />

and solidarity economy models such as co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and mutuals can give workers in the<br />

informal economy access to the formal economy.<br />

With this come several benefits, from being<br />

formally employed and having social security to<br />

receiving training and being able to specialise.<br />

The latter is important for waste pickers who are<br />

elderly and can no longer work long hours on the<br />

street collecting waste.<br />

Parra says waste pickers play two important<br />

roles: preventing contamination of the<br />

environment and providing raw material to<br />

industry. In <strong>Co</strong>lombia where he is based, u<br />

p Some of the co-<strong>op</strong>’s<br />

members (image:<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa Planeta<br />

Verde)<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 39

“Despite the<br />

crucial role they<br />

play, waste<br />

pickers receive<br />

the lowest<br />

payments in the<br />

value chain”<br />

p (left) One of the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>’s members.<br />

(right) A member of<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> at work (All<br />

photos: <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erativa<br />

Planeta Verde)<br />

40% of the cardboard and paper comes from<br />

recyclables, most of it from the hands of waste<br />

pickers. Wiego has devel<strong>op</strong>ed tools to show the<br />

waste pickers how their activities cut greenhouse<br />

gas emissions. But despite the crucial role they<br />

play, waste pickers receive the lowest payments<br />

in the value chain.<br />

“You can work for 18 hours and collect 200<br />

kilos of different materials. You want to sell one<br />

kilo of cardboard and you receive a 50 US cents<br />

– but the intermediary pe<strong>op</strong>le sell it for 75 cents<br />

and the company or the corporation that uses<br />

the material can pay $1.50 per kilo.”<br />

As members of a co-<strong>op</strong> the waste pickers can<br />

sell more together and gain some bargaining<br />

power. But of the 20 million pe<strong>op</strong>le working<br />

as waste pickers around the world, only four<br />

million are in formal employment.<br />

“Those waste pickers that were not organised<br />

continued to pick up waste during the pandemic –<br />

and being on the frontlines were among the most<br />

affected by it,” says Parra.<br />

But in the co-<strong>op</strong>, waste pickers understood<br />

that together they could lobby the government<br />

and fight for access to the vaccine. The crisis<br />

also led to having an internal culture of selfprotection.<br />

Challenges included not being able<br />

to meet in person with many waste pickers<br />

lacking smartphones, internet or mobile data to<br />

be able to join online meetings.<br />

Inflation was another challenge. “In<br />

Argentina, one US dollar before the pandemic<br />

was 40 Argentine pesos, now it costs 200. In<br />

<strong>Co</strong>lombia a dollar used to cost 1,700 pesos and<br />

now it’s 5,000. This implies reduced capacity to<br />

buy food. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s tried to solve this by providing<br />

food for workers,” he said.<br />

There were also issues around the price of<br />

structural materials such as glass, which became<br />

cheaper while being difficult to transport.<br />

“So waste pickers have to choose – do we have<br />

to continue collecting glass? It is so expensive<br />

to move but so cheap! A lot of industrial centres<br />

that used to process recyclable materials<br />

closed – so they had to export recyclables. That<br />

transport puts an additional cost in the value<br />

chain process. And the waste pickers suffer the<br />

consequences of this price reduction.”<br />

Once lockdown ended, the waste pickers<br />

realised there was even more competition in the<br />

informal economy because more pe<strong>op</strong>le had lost<br />

their jobs and entered the market.<br />

Regulation also changed in many countries<br />

with more governments ad<strong>op</strong>ting Extended<br />

Producer Responsibility strategies, which means<br />

all the environmental costs associated with a<br />

product throughout its life cycle are added to its<br />

market price.<br />

Wiego warns that many Extended Producer<br />

Responsibility systems “don’t accept or recognise<br />

the role of co-<strong>op</strong>s”.<br />

“It became a new business niche for many<br />

private corporations who started to do recycling<br />

– and not recognising that there were waste<br />

pickers’ organisations that had been doing this<br />

for ages,” says Parra.<br />

He adds that a just climate transition will need<br />

to take waste pickers’ livelihoods into account.<br />

In the meantime, Wiego intends to continue<br />

supporting workers in the informal economy as<br />

they try to secure their livelihoods – and wants<br />

more positive action from government to help.<br />

“According to the ILO, 64% of the world’s<br />

employed p<strong>op</strong>ulation are informal workers,”<br />

says Parra. “They have no formal ways to<br />

organise themselves other than social and<br />

solidarity economy. Governments need to accept<br />

that co-<strong>op</strong>s are the future for these 64%.”<br />

40 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

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Supporting<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK’s new secretary<br />

by Susan<br />

Press<br />

Claire Dalton is enjoying a new professional<br />

challenge: after almost 17 years as a senior<br />

advisor on governance to the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group, she<br />

was in December appointed society secretary to<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK.<br />

Born in Oldham, Claire has spent all her<br />

working life with the co-<strong>op</strong> movement.<br />

“Growing up in Oldham we sh<strong>op</strong>ped at the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>, had a family member who worked at CIS,<br />

had our insurance there,” she says. “And with the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> being such a huge employer locally, most<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le had a connection.”<br />

After a law and French degree at Manchester<br />

Metr<strong>op</strong>olitan University, in 2005 she got a job<br />

in customer contact at the CIS call centre while<br />

deciding the legal route she wanted to take. “I<br />

liked the pe<strong>op</strong>le, the organisation and the way<br />

it looked after its staff,” she says, “so I stayed. I<br />

moved on to become a trainer and it was only then<br />

that I realised just how large the co-<strong>op</strong> movement<br />

was and how vast its family of businesses was.<br />

“In 2006 I came across a job in what was then<br />

the CWS governance department as a trainee<br />

company secretary supporting the assistant<br />

secretary and everything else followed from<br />

there. Not long after I started there was the<br />

merger with United <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and we went from<br />

300/400 subsidiaries to nearly 900. Then we<br />

had to undertake a large and long restructuring<br />

process to rationalise the number of subsidiaries<br />

down to a more manageable level so by the time<br />

I left it was more like 60.”<br />

As a highly qualified and experienced chartered<br />

secretary, Claire’s knowledge of the ramifications<br />

42 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

of legal and regulatory corporate governance and<br />

compliance requirements is not just impressive –<br />

it’s an absolute necessity given the complexity of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative organisations.<br />

Her remit in her many years as a senior adviser<br />

to the board secretariat of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group<br />

included everything from support on technical<br />

changes of legal status to corporate restructures,<br />

incorporations, mergers and acquisitions –<br />

and also the complex business of winding up<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> entities which had run their course and<br />

redeploying their assets.<br />

As company secretary to numerous subsidiaries<br />

in the Group, she was also responsible for the<br />

preparation of board papers, minutes and<br />

resolutions, assisting in the preparation of<br />

annual reports and<br />

accounts for the Group<br />

and its subsidiaries, and<br />

ensuring compliance with<br />

statutory obligations with<br />

bodies like <strong>Co</strong>mpanies<br />

House and the Financial<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nduct Authority. Tasks<br />

which most of us would<br />

find impossibly daunting, but Claire likes “things<br />

to be organised and in good order”.<br />

“My husband always says I enjoy a good<br />

sort-out which says a lot!” she adds. “For me,<br />

it’s always been about finding co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

solutions and troubleshooting in a co-<strong>op</strong> way.<br />

I feel in some ways we are only scratching the<br />

surface of what co-<strong>op</strong>s can provide. When you<br />

have lot of companies not really doing anything<br />

there is still a large administrative burden and<br />

accounts have to be prepared. It all boils down<br />

to good governance.<br />

“Looking at things through a governance<br />

lens – i.e. with the example of restructuring and<br />

rationalising – if you want to change a corporate<br />

structure, there are lots of positive <strong>op</strong>tions<br />

available.”<br />

After almost 17 years at senior level with the<br />

Group, Claire decided last summer to move to <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK after a spell on secondment.<br />

“The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group had a good relationship with<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK,” she says. “When the former secretary<br />

moved on to another role they approached us<br />

and said would someone like to come and do a<br />

secondment. I have done secondments before<br />

and always enjoyed doing different things so<br />

when I was approached I didn’t hesitate. I thought<br />

it would be good to get some new experience and<br />

it just went from there. Things worked out really<br />

well. I was invited to apply and got the job.”<br />

Another string to Claire’s bow is her long<br />

involvement with the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Credit Union.<br />

“We are led by our values<br />

and ethics and I want to<br />

do everything I can to<br />

support all the organisations<br />

in <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK”<br />

“I’ve been a member of CCU since I started work<br />

in 2006. I was secretary/director for a time and<br />

joined the board in 2014,” she says. “I stepped<br />

down towards the end of 2017 when I went on<br />

maternity leave and I’m happy to now be back in<br />

the fold as secretary after taking a break.”<br />

The role of credit unions is very much in the<br />

spotlight, given the state of the economy. “Every<br />

business the length and breadth of the country<br />

has been affected by the cost of living crisis” says<br />

Claire, “and pe<strong>op</strong>le need the support of credit<br />

unions more than ever.<br />

“We are worried and want to look at what we<br />

can do to support them so in the last year we have<br />

introduced a hardship fund. It’s always a balance<br />

about what we can do to support members and<br />

support sustainable<br />

business but we are doing<br />

our best.”<br />

More recently, Claire<br />

was appointed as a trustee<br />

of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Heritage<br />

Trust, which takes care<br />

of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement’s archive and<br />

key sites like the Pioneers Museum in Rochdale.<br />

Three months after her formal appointment<br />

at <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK, Claire is enjoying her new<br />

role and its demands. “<strong>Co</strong>ming into a smaller<br />

organisation is quite different from being in a<br />

large organisation like the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group,” she<br />

says. “The focus may be narrower but it is more<br />

in depth. Being part of the leadership team is also<br />

something quite different for me but obviously<br />

there are lots of similarities. I am still dealing with<br />

boards and directors and different organisations<br />

and there is still a lot of contact with pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

“The challenge for me is getting under the<br />

bonnet of everything. There are many longstanding<br />

organisations in <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK and you<br />

cannot come into an organisation and not be<br />

mindful of that. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s look to us as the apex<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> entity as we represent Britain’s co-<strong>op</strong><br />

organisations.”<br />

As <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK enters the lead-up to its<br />

elections and AGM, Claire is now familiarising<br />

herself with procedure and assessing whether<br />

there is sc<strong>op</strong>e for improvement.<br />

“The challenge is always about our values and<br />

principles and what stakeholders want to see and<br />

what we can reasonably do in the context of good<br />

governance,” she adds.<br />

“We are led by our values and ethics and I<br />

want to do everything I can to support all the<br />

organisations in <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s UK and to be looked upon<br />

as an example of good governance. I am proud to<br />

be part of the movement.”<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 43

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s and corporations<br />

Is there room for more collaboration to drive the UN’s 2030 Agenda?<br />

by Anca Voinea<br />

p Daniela Bas,<br />

director of the Division<br />

for Inclusive Social<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment of<br />

the Department of<br />

Economic and Social<br />

Affairs (DISD DESA) of<br />

the UN, addressing the<br />

meeting<br />

With the UN’s sustainability agenda for 2030,<br />

launched in 2015, nearing its halfway point, co-<strong>op</strong><br />

leaders met with private corporations to find<br />

ways to speed up the effort.<br />

The discussion – held at a side event of the<br />

61st Session of the UN <strong>Co</strong>mmission for Social<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment of the UN on 8 February – brought<br />

delegates from around the world to look at issues<br />

such as biodiversity and rural poverty.<br />

Organised by the UN Department of Economic<br />

and Social Affairs, in collaboration with<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmittee for the Promotion and Advancement<br />

of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (<strong>Co</strong>pac) and the Permanent<br />

Mission of Mongolia, the event looked at how<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s and corporations work together on the<br />

SDGs – notably those on reduced inequalities<br />

(10) and decent work and economic growth (8).<br />

Daniela Bas, director of the Division for<br />

Inclusive Social Devel<strong>op</strong>ment of the UN<br />

Department of Economic and Social Affairs<br />

(DISD DESA), highlighted the importance of<br />

SDG17 on co-<strong>op</strong>eration and partnerships.<br />

“Our goal is to identify how corporations and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives can partner to maximise their<br />

impact in promoting employment and reducing<br />

inequalities,” she said. “Let us emphasise the<br />

importance of finding common ground and<br />

leveraging each other’s strengths and expertise.”<br />

There is sc<strong>op</strong>e for fruitful collaboration when<br />

it comes to sourcing goods and services, she<br />

said. Joint ventures could devel<strong>op</strong> new business<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities and create employment, support<br />

sustainable production and marketing practices,<br />

promote fair trade and ethical sourcing, and<br />

drive community devel<strong>op</strong>ment initiatives.<br />

For example, the Body Sh<strong>op</strong> has entered a<br />

partnership with 20 co-<strong>op</strong>s around the world<br />

through its community trade programme.<br />

Enkhbold Vorshilov, Mongolia’s permanent<br />

representative to the UN, described his<br />

country’s recent initiative to amend co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

legislation and devel<strong>op</strong> guidelines to help<br />

companies, corporations and other companies<br />

to disclose their sustainability practices.<br />

Kenya’s cabinet secretary for labour and social<br />

protection, Florence Bore, also highlighted the<br />

role of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in her country’s economy.<br />

“We believe that the future of Kenya depends<br />

on the strength and vitality of our co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

sector,” she said, adding that co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

corporations could work together on community<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment initiatives or form joint ventures<br />

and partnerships to pool resources, expertise<br />

and market access.<br />

44 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

<strong>Co</strong>rporations can also provide training and<br />

support to co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to help them build<br />

capacity and become more competitive in<br />

the marketplace, she added. “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and corporations are both important players<br />

in their economy and their collaboration can<br />

have a profound impact on the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of<br />

communities.”<br />

The event also featured a panel discussion<br />

with corporate and co-<strong>op</strong>erative representatives.<br />

Adinan Kielb, administrative director of<br />

Cresol, the third largest credit co-<strong>op</strong> in Brazil,<br />

gave an overview of its work. Cresol has 734<br />

branches, represents 78,000 co-<strong>op</strong> members and<br />

manages US$4.7bn in assets. It provides micro<br />

credit for small farmers and small companies<br />

and has a number of partnerships with insurance<br />

companies and public and private banks.<br />

Aldo Uva, CEO of CSM Ingredients, shared<br />

some of his organisation’s<br />

projects with co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

including its Ancient<br />

Grains initiative, which<br />

is helping farmer co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

plant rare ancient<br />

grains. This encourages<br />

biodiversity and creates<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunities for farmers<br />

– and through co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

farmers can work with corporations directly,<br />

cutting middlemen from the supply chain.<br />

“The more co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are there, the more<br />

frameworks that encourage co-<strong>op</strong>s, the more<br />

corporations can add value to the full ecosystem,<br />

and to the full value chain of food,” added Uva.<br />

Bruno Roelants, director general of the<br />

International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Alliance (ICA), who<br />

was also representing <strong>Co</strong>pac, which the ICA<br />

currently chairs, said co-<strong>op</strong>eratives contribute to<br />

SDGs 8 and 10 by having a lower than average<br />

income gap, redistributing profits according to<br />

members’ transactions, and fostering knowledge<br />

and innovation in their communities.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives naturally promote the SDGs<br />

and they had been doing so even before the SDGs<br />

came into being,” he said. “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s tend to create<br />

networks of enterprises among themselves and<br />

with the rest of the corporate world, and we have<br />

a lot to gain from stronger co-<strong>op</strong>eration between<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s and the rest of the corporate world.”<br />

The two types of enterprises could work<br />

together more strongly on the SDGs on the<br />

agenda 2030, added Roelants, and they can also<br />

start “thinking beyond the 2030 agenda.”<br />

Meanwhile, Angus Rennie, partnerships<br />

manager at UN Global <strong>Co</strong>mpact, said it was<br />

important to continue to “lift up co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

“The more co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are<br />

there, the more frameworks<br />

that encourage co-<strong>op</strong>s, the<br />

more corporations can add<br />

value to the full ecosystem, and<br />

to the full value chain of food”<br />

as leaders in really living those values of<br />

partnership and resilience”.<br />

The UN Global <strong>Co</strong>mpact intends to launch<br />

a call on companies everywhere to commit to<br />

a living wage. “I think this is something that<br />

partners in the co-<strong>op</strong>erative sector might also<br />

already be able to demonstrate,” said Rennie.<br />

Larger co-<strong>op</strong>s are also leading the way when<br />

it comes to partnering with small and medium<br />

enterprises (SMEs), he thinks. UN Global<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mpact is to launch a pilot project encouraging<br />

partnerships between some of the larger<br />

multinationals and SMEs.<br />

The event ended with a Q&A session, where<br />

Matthieu <strong>Co</strong>gnac, senior multilateral co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

specialist at the New York office of<br />

the UN International Labour Organization (ILO),<br />

said co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are important because of<br />

their role in decent work and supply chains, and<br />

the way they “promote<br />

democratic values at<br />

the local level and at the<br />

country level”.<br />

In 2002 ,the ILO ad<strong>op</strong>ted<br />

Recommendation 193<br />

on the Promotion of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives, which<br />

has been used by 117<br />

countries to revise their<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative policies.<br />

Lucas Tavares, senior liaison officer at the<br />

UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),<br />

pointed out that rural areas are home to more<br />

than 80% of the world’s extreme poor – many<br />

of them family farmers who lack access to loans,<br />

inputs or markets, “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are a means to<br />

grant them this access,” he said.<br />

The FAO is working with the Latin American<br />

Parliament (Parlatino), a regional, permanent<br />

organisation representing the countries of Latin<br />

America and the Caribbean, to create a draft<br />

model law for the region’s agri food co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

Access to land is another issue. Dr Ify Ofong<br />

of Women in Devel<strong>op</strong>ment and Environment<br />

(Nigeria), convenor of the Women and Habitat<br />

Africa working group, which forms part of the<br />

Habitat International <strong>Co</strong>alition, argued that co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

could enable women’s access to land<br />

in countries where this is an issue.<br />

“With the right legal framework we do create<br />

the conditions for co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to grow, to<br />

bridge co-<strong>op</strong>s and corporations, and achieve the<br />

benefits we are looking for,” she said.<br />

In her concluding remarks, Daniela Bas said<br />

the meeting would be followed by specific<br />

thematic worksh<strong>op</strong>s to further explore the issues<br />

raised during the meeting.<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 45

Circular<br />

economy<br />

strategies<br />

and<br />

business<br />

models<br />

resonate with co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

in Quebec<br />

by Anca Voinea<br />

A new study by HEC Montreal business school<br />

provides insights into circularity strategies of co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

in Quebec.<br />

Titled Circular Economy and <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives—An<br />

Exploratory Survey, the research draws on an<br />

exploratory database of 165 co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, 48 of<br />

which responded to a survey carried out by the<br />

team from HEC Montreal.<br />

The researchers aimed to find out which<br />

strategies and business models co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

pursue; how they view their advancement in<br />

relation to these strategies and business models;<br />

how strategies and business models are related<br />

to types of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and sectors; and what<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives need to advance circularity.<br />

The analysis of the responses suggests<br />

that the circularity strategies and business<br />

models resonate with co-<strong>op</strong>eratives across<br />

strategies and business models. Forty-nine<br />

per cent of respondents indicated more than<br />

one circular economy business model fitting<br />

their approach. These include ecodesigners<br />

who devel<strong>op</strong>, produce, and sell products made<br />

from recuperated materials; mutualisers who<br />

coordinate the sharing of tools and products<br />

with a view to increasing their use within a<br />

community; second-hand sh<strong>op</strong>s; logisticians<br />

that offer waste management; repairers who<br />

offer their services to extend the life of a product;<br />

recoverers who offer a service in the collection,<br />

sorting, and preparation of ‘waste’ materials so<br />

that they become reusable again; transformers<br />

who offer industrial services by creating new<br />

products out of waste; craft hubs which offer<br />

citizens access to tools and training for repairing<br />

and making products in a worksh<strong>op</strong>; and<br />

reduction at the source businesses, who offer a<br />

service based on the elimination of non-essential<br />

and harmful materials and in the value chain.<br />

Fifty-five percent (n = 26) of respondents<br />

identify with the mutualiser model as their<br />

primary business model, followed by 8%<br />

for reduction at the source and logisticians,<br />

respectively, and 6% for consultants in circular<br />

economy. Another 8% of respondents identify<br />

with the reduction at the source models and<br />

logisticians models. Examples of reduction<br />

at the source businesses surveyed include a<br />

consumer co-<strong>op</strong>erative and a solidarity co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

focused on bio products and the sale<br />

of products in bulk, a producer co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

offering bike-powered delivery services, and<br />

a worker co-<strong>op</strong>erative farm offering certified<br />

bio products. Logisticians include solidarity<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, three of them organising the<br />

availability of locally and ecologically produced<br />

46 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

agricultural products as well as one co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

focused on waste reduction (helping restaurants<br />

and their clients to avoid plastic waste when<br />

ordering food).<br />

Other examples provided in the study include<br />

the solidarity co-<strong>op</strong>erative Centrale Agricole,<br />

which brings together urban agricultural<br />

producers (including several co-<strong>op</strong>eratives) to<br />

share material and immaterial resources on its<br />

site in Montréal. The research found that the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative “actively fosters circular synergies<br />

between its members”. For example, the ‘waste’<br />

of a coffee roaster on its premises provides an<br />

input for the mushroom cultivation of another<br />

organisation on its site.<br />

Another case study mentioned in the research<br />

is Sollio <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Group, which has been<br />

working to improve how its deals with organic<br />

‘waste’. Sollio formed a partnership with an<br />

enterprise specialising in insect farming, which<br />

produces proteins and flour from insects fed by<br />

recuperated organic waste. The initiative led to<br />

a 56% reduction of organic ‘waste’ sent to the<br />

landfill, and has reduced trucking trips, costs,<br />

and GHGs emissions.<br />

Another co-<strong>op</strong>erative featured as an example,<br />

Retournzy, offers a turnkey service for the rental,<br />

collection and washing of returnable containers<br />

for restaurants and lists circularity among its<br />

values: “we encourage a circular economy of<br />

sharing reusable containers as an alternative to<br />

single-use containers” it says.<br />

The study notes that a circular economy<br />

strategy and business model discussion among<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, small and large, would be<br />

relevant and supported by the sixth co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

principle of co-<strong>op</strong>eration among co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

It also points out that a co-<strong>op</strong>erative might not<br />

use, or not even have heard of circular economy,<br />

but it may still implicitly advance the goals of a<br />

circular economy.<br />

“We interpret the mutualisation at the core<br />

of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model as a deep, implicit<br />

support potential for circular economy,” reads<br />

the paper.<br />

Despite being prone to ad<strong>op</strong>t circular economy<br />

approaches due to their business model, co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

remain constrained by policies that<br />

support the linear economy. “We argue that co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

need to move towards explicit goals<br />

and strategies to ensure and sustain social and<br />

ecological ‘circular’ impact, and to avoid mission<br />

drift towards the linear model,” adds the paper.<br />

The study concludes that while “there is a<br />

structural link between the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model<br />

and circular economy, this is not a matter of<br />

either/or (circular/no circular).” The research<br />

also argues that co-<strong>op</strong>eratives need to move<br />

towards explicit goals and strategies to ensure<br />

and sustain social and ecological “circular”<br />

impact, and to avoid mission drift towards<br />

the linear model, in line with the seventh co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

principle of co-<strong>op</strong>eration among co<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

In light of these findings, the paper suggests<br />

practical recommendations to advance a co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

embedding of circular economy in the<br />

light of current needs: support for the integration<br />

and improvement of circularity strategies and<br />

associated socio-technical questions, support<br />

with business model devel<strong>op</strong>ment and finance,<br />

as well as promoting circular economy education<br />

and enabling peer exchange. Furthermore,<br />

argues the paper, because co-<strong>op</strong>eratives have<br />

greater longevity than private enterprises,<br />

advancing their circularity can be expected to<br />

have a more lasting effect.<br />

The study forms part of a larger project of<br />

creating a collection on circular economy and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives which started in 2022. The online<br />

collection includes a toolbox section, which<br />

provides co-<strong>op</strong>eratives with tools to advance<br />

their circular strategies; a knowledge section,<br />

which provides access to research articles<br />

and policies, and an examples of circular<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives section, which showcases co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

that are pursuing circular strategies.<br />

We interpret the<br />

mutualisation<br />

at the core of<br />

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

model as a deep,<br />

implicit support<br />

potential<br />

for circular<br />

economy<br />

p Circular Economy<br />

and <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives – An<br />

Exploratory Survey<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 47


Learning from the legacy of co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing<br />

Andrew Bibby on his new book, These Houses Are Ours<br />

by Natalie Bradbury<br />

The provision of housing is one of the less wellknown<br />

aspects of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement’s<br />

history, but a new book by Andrew Bibby revisits<br />

precedents in the nineteenth and early twentieth<br />

centuries to highlight their commonalities with<br />

community-led housing today.<br />

These Houses Are Ours explores a legacy of co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

housing devel<strong>op</strong>ment between 1870 and<br />

1919, particularly ‘co-partnership tenant societies’,<br />

which were established to provide good homes<br />

at affordable rents in tenant-run communities.<br />

Although the mainstream co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement<br />

didn’t engage in housing to the same extent as<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in other countries, a number of c<strong>op</strong>artnership<br />

societies were formed around the<br />

country. Often, devel<strong>op</strong>ment was funded through<br />

philanthr<strong>op</strong>ic or private investment in a way that<br />

Bibby likens to today’s community shares model.<br />

Bibby describes this historical movement as “an<br />

attempt to do something practical in response to<br />

the really major housing problems at the time”. At<br />

the same time, he says, by providing modern homes<br />

and shared amenities such as sports facilities,<br />

meeting rooms and social clubs, it “allowed<br />

ordinary working-class pe<strong>op</strong>le to have some of the<br />

pleasures in life that the rich took for granted”.<br />

Bibby’s book involved research in local and<br />

national archives, as well as looking at the minutes<br />

and record books of individual societies. In addition<br />

to telling the story of these societies, a number of key<br />

personalities emerge, who had the means and the<br />

The market isn’t meeting the<br />

need, so we are asking what can<br />

communities do for themselves.<br />

It’s providing affordable housing<br />

that a generation ago local<br />

authorities would have provided<br />

motivation to support the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

housing. While some were individuals<br />

Bibby had previously encountered during his<br />

research into the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement, others<br />

were members of what Bibby calls the “great and<br />

the good”. These include well-known figures<br />

such as Fred Bulmer, the cider producer, who<br />

established Hereford <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Housing Ltd, and<br />

the playwright George Bernard Shaw, who invested<br />

a considerable amount of money in co-partnership<br />

housing.<br />

Bibby explains that “what Shaw was doing was<br />

very similar to pe<strong>op</strong>le who invest in community<br />

sh<strong>op</strong>s, community energy and community pubs<br />

today. He wanted to achieve something with his<br />

money that was a financial return but also a moral<br />

return. He didn’t want it just sitting on the stock<br />

exchange.”<br />

Another individual whose contribution Bibby<br />

feels deserves to be recognised was Sybella Gurney,<br />

who studied at Royal Holloway University at a<br />

time when it was difficult for women to get degree<br />

status. “She was very involved in the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

world,” Bibby says. “She put her money where her<br />

mouth was.”<br />

A gazetteer at the end of the book shows how<br />

widespread the movement was, with around<br />

150 places either establishing or discussing c<strong>op</strong>artnership<br />

societies. In the course of his research,<br />

Bibby visited the majority of those which remain<br />

tenant-managed today, although he admits<br />

that they weren’t easy to track down. Speaking<br />

to management committees enabled him to<br />

understand how they have survived and how they<br />

handle governance, tenant representation and<br />

participation today.<br />

“Amazingly, there are still ten tenant<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ments functioning,” he says. “This is an<br />

astonishing achievement when you think about<br />

how things have changed in the past 100 years in<br />

terms of housing policy and government policy<br />

and the risk of demutualisation. Societies evolve,<br />

housing evolves and housing requirements evolve,<br />

but it demonstrates there is still life in the model.”<br />

Bibby notes that many of the co-partnership<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ments remain highly attractive places<br />

48 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

to live. These include Burnage Garden Village,<br />

established by Manchester Tenants Ltd in south<br />

Manchester, which incorporates facilities such<br />

as tennis courts, as well as Broadway Garden<br />

Village in Fairfield, east of Manchester, which was<br />

designed by the renowned architect Edgar Wood<br />

for Moravian Tenants. The co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing<br />

movement was closely linked with the garden city<br />

and garden suburb movements, and incorporated<br />

amenities such as playgrounds and green spaces.<br />

Even in those devel<strong>op</strong>ments that are no longer<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative societies or tenant run, he has found<br />

that residents were proud of their history and<br />

“know there’s something special about where<br />

they live”.<br />

Bibby is a founder trustee and volunteer<br />

with Calder <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Land Trust, whose first<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment, bungalows for older pe<strong>op</strong>le, was<br />

completed in 2020. <strong>Co</strong>mmunity land trusts, he says,<br />

provide a way for pe<strong>op</strong>le come together to “create<br />

decent housing through community endeavour”.<br />

This is an idea which is very closely linked to the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement, as a grassroots movement<br />

founded on self-help that seeks to find bottom-up<br />

solutions to social and economic issues.<br />

“We have a problem, the housing crisis, and we<br />

aren’t building the houses that are desperately<br />

needed,” Bibby explains. “The market isn’t meeting<br />

the need, so we are asking what can communities<br />

do for themselves. It’s providing affordable housing<br />

that a generation ago local authorities would<br />

have provided.”<br />

He is interested in what contemporary<br />

community-led initiatives can learn from the<br />

experiences of earlier societies. As the book shows,<br />

many of today’s challenges are strikingly similar<br />

to those facing nineteenth-century reformers,<br />

from a shortage of affordable housing at decent<br />

standards to tourism and second home ownership<br />

– something that remains particularly acute in<br />

areas such as <strong>Co</strong>rnwall and the Lake District.<br />

“What is extraordinary is how similar what<br />

community land trusts are doing today is to what<br />

was being done 100 years ago,” Bibby observes,<br />

“We have the same desires, the same issues and<br />

the same dilemmas, for example, how do you<br />

raise the money? We can learn from some of those<br />

early examples.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity land trusts can also encourage a<br />

different and less reactive approach to planning,<br />

he argues, where pe<strong>op</strong>le feel more empowered to<br />

have a say and communities get the <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

to discuss and decide how towns and villages can<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> to meet their needs, rather than being<br />

shaped by outside devel<strong>op</strong>ers.<br />

Bibby is encouraged by a sense that co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

housing is “back on the agenda in a big way”, for<br />

the first time in 20 years, and h<strong>op</strong>es that his book<br />

will provide a source of inspiration.<br />

“I h<strong>op</strong>e that those involved in co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

housing, co-housing or community land trusts can<br />

get know their history and that they’re not starting<br />

from scratch,” he says.<br />

“They can build on the legacy of hard-working<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le over 100 years ago and learn from what<br />

they did right, as well as from what they didn’t do<br />

so well. Lots of pe<strong>op</strong>le are now getting involved in<br />

bottom-up, community-led housing ventures and<br />

I h<strong>op</strong>e this history can directly affect what we’re<br />

doing and have meaning and relevance for our<br />

efforts today. We can’t create as many houses as<br />

are needed but we can create really good quality,<br />

decent housing and show the way to the type of<br />

housing we’d like to have in the future.”<br />

p Andrew Bibby (pictured<br />

far right)<br />

Purchase These<br />

Houses Are Ours<br />

by Andrew Bibby via<br />

Gritstone Publishing<br />

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

gritstoneco<strong>op</strong>.co.uk/<br />

product/ab-houses<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong> readers<br />

can get a £2.50<br />

discount with the code<br />

COOP<strong>2023</strong><br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong> | 49

DIARY<br />

Do you have a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

event – taking place in person,<br />

online, or as a hybrid – to be<br />

featured?<br />

Tell us at: events@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

Fairtrade Fortnight<br />

27 February - 12 <strong>March</strong> (international)<br />

This year’s annual fortnight of Fairtrade<br />

campaigning aims to spread a simple<br />

message: making the small switch to<br />

Fairtrade supports producers in protecting<br />

the future of some of our most-loved food<br />

and the planet.<br />

bit.ly/41jJEWY<br />

Women’s Voices at Central <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

8 <strong>March</strong> (Staffordshire, UK)<br />

To celebrate international Women’s Day<br />

<strong>2023</strong>, Central <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is again hosting its<br />

annual Women’s Voices event, at the<br />

National Memorial Arboretum, with<br />

worksh<strong>op</strong>s and guest speakers including<br />

Dame Pauline Green and Dame Margaret<br />

Beckett.<br />

bit.ly/3XMzZoM<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Women’s Voices Webinar: Cath<br />

Muller<br />

15 <strong>March</strong> (12pm GMT, online)<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-hosted by <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong> and the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>Co</strong>llege, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Women’s Voices will be<br />

speaking with Cath Muller, who came to<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative living and working in the<br />

mid-90s via eco-activism, <strong>Co</strong>rnerstone<br />

Housing <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and the Radical Routes<br />

federation of co-<strong>op</strong>s working for radical<br />

social change. What has her co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

journey looked like? Who has inspired her<br />

along the way? And what advice would<br />

she give to other women in the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

movement?<br />

bit.ly/3xHiFXG<br />

Abcul <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

10-11 <strong>March</strong> (Manchester, UK)<br />

The largest event in the British credit<br />

union calendar, Abcul’s conference<br />

provides the <strong>op</strong>portunity for credit union<br />

board members, staff and volunteers<br />

to hear from a wide range of speakers,<br />

discuss the issues that are important to<br />

them and network with others from the<br />

movement.<br />

bit.ly/3ILCFPl<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Retail <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

24-26 <strong>March</strong> (Cheshire, UK)<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Retail <strong>Co</strong>nference is the<br />

only annual event designed specifically<br />

for co-<strong>op</strong>erative retailers. It attracts<br />

leaders, managers and directors of<br />

consumer owned retail co-<strong>op</strong>eratives from<br />

across the UK.<br />

uk.co<strong>op</strong>/crc<br />

Playground for the New Economy Festival<br />

19-20 May (Manchester, UK)<br />

Stir to Action’s annual festival is heading<br />

to Stretford Public Hall, for two days of<br />

panels, worksh<strong>op</strong>s, local DJs, and food.<br />

stirtoaction.com/festival<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

June (date and location TBC)<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>ngress brings together those<br />

working to build a fairer economy to share<br />

ideas, get inspiration and take action.<br />

Details TBC<br />

International Day of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

1 July<br />

ICA CCR Global and Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Research <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

10-13 July (Leuven Belgium)<br />

The overall theme of the <strong>2023</strong> conference<br />

is ‘Governing co<strong>op</strong>erative innovation’ and<br />

will bring together academia, researchers,<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong>erative practitioners from all<br />

over the world, as well as policy-makers<br />

at the EU and international level, to<br />

discuss the latest research and policy<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ments in the area of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

governance. The event is hosted by<br />

the Centre of Expertise for <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Entrepreneurship (KCO KU Leuven), a<br />

research and teaching centre.<br />

info@icaccr<strong>2023</strong>.com<br />

<strong>2023</strong> World Credit Union <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

23-26 July (Vancouver, Canada)<br />

The premier global credit union education<br />

and networking event offered by the<br />

financial services industry is returning to<br />

Canada. Organised by the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil<br />

of Credit Unions and the Canadian Credit<br />

Union Association (CCUA), the event will<br />

hear from global industry experts on a<br />

variety of t<strong>op</strong>ics. The extensive educational<br />

program includes 32 concurring breakout<br />

sessions, worksh<strong>op</strong>s, keynote sessions<br />

and a Solution Center geared towards<br />

solving today’s challenges.<br />

wcuc.org<br />

Celebrating 20 years of Saint Mary’s<br />

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

Management<br />

21-22 September (Halifax/Kjipuktuk,<br />

Canada)<br />

Building on 20 years of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

education and research excellence, the<br />

event aims to celebrate ICCM’s collective<br />

work and amplify its potential for a<br />

stronger future.<br />

conta.cc/3Hi8cYv<br />

Practitioners Forum<br />

23 November (Manchester)<br />

One of the leading training and<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment event for pe<strong>op</strong>le working<br />

in co-<strong>op</strong>erative businesses – big and<br />

small – Practitioners Forum is an annual<br />

sell-out. It hosts around 20 sessions<br />

across five specialist forums covering<br />

membership, governance, finance, HR<br />

and communications.<br />

Details TBC<br />

50 | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>


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