Co-operative movement calls on leaders at Davos 
to make sure new social enterprises 
think people first, not profit first

Nations are experiencing negative and devastating effects of austerity policies on services of general interest, including health and social services. World governments have been under double the amount of pressure to serve -with declining revenues from taxes – more people. The reinvention of community services is creating an opportunity to recognise the significance of existing and the potential for the development of social care co-operatives.

The financial strain on nations in general and on health and social services in particular trigger measures that will have a negative effect on public health and employment.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2014 deliberate focus on Social Entrepreneurship indicates that nations understand this.

The Co-operative Movement demonstrates, every single working day, that it can provide a part of the solution. Co-ops provide a platform for citizens to unite as business people, to safeguard their jobs, and to drive social reform.

Charles Gould, Director General, International Co-operative Alliance said:

Reform is in crisis worldwide, but the real danger is to let complacency set in. We can feel the pace of vital institutional reforms slowing. Co-operatives are appreciative of the WEF’s government participants’ interest in social entrepreneurship. We see this as a sign that states recognize the power of the citizen and his desire to take action for his own good and improve his autonomy. States which understand this, welcome co-operative enterprise and will put in place dedicated, favourable legal provisions for co-operatives. Co-ops let citizens act in co-operation with state, the co-operative movement and investor owned enterprises to provide the services that they need and love.

Social entrepreneurship is about values – acting in the interest of community. Co-operatives have this responsibility to society laid down in their statutes – which investor owned enterprise has not. Co-operatives therefore are the enterprise model of choice for social services. When needed but also loved facilities, hospitals, schools, parks are threatened, communities can save them by forming a co-operative. We call on state leaders to make this part of their program, if it isn’t already. Co-operatives today make a significant contribution towards alleviating pressing global problems like hunger and social inequality. With more government support, understanding and recognition, we could contribute much more and be relevant to states who want quality public services for citizens.”

Rodrigo Gouveia, Director of Policy, International Co-operative Alliance said:

We want states to keep up public service to the best they can, and ensure quality of life, security, and employment. At the same time, states need to recognize co-operatives as a complementary, balancing force in society – a third way, between state and investor business. Co-ops’ merit is that they engage citizens in an active way. They are a sustainable solution, where Keynesian policy measures to stimulate economic growth, are temporary. Co-ops provide a platform for this sense of ownership to take root and grow. Co-operative enterprise provides diversity to states’ business ecosystem and provide an instrument to set up and conduct social business in a trusted, value-based way.”

How can governments foster co-op growth in social enterprise?

Davos in Winter by Flyout

Davos in Winter by Flyout

• Through innovative new forms of finance, of which the community shares scheme in the UK is an example. Community shares provide local residents with the option to own their neighbourhood services;

• Provide communities and local administration with advice and practical support for starting a co-operative through an advice line or website;

• Letting co-operative business register as Assets of Community Value, and benefit from ensuing tax advantages;

• Rise the ceiling limit for investment into co-operatives.

• Ensure access to appropriate financing for entrepreneurial projects by cooperatives by creating specific public funds, or loan guarantees or covenants for the access to financial resources.

• Define specific legal provisions regulating the fiscal regime and the self-managed organisation of worker co-operatives that can enable and promote their development.

Don’t be surprised – A co-operative runs the WEF forum

Davos Destinations Organisation, the organization behind the WE Forum is a co-operative under Swiss law. Again, a co-operative is selected to let people associate and deliver a quality service of social interest.

Learn more – attend the co-operative summit!

At the International Summit of Co-operatives – a biennial event- leaders of co-operative and mutualist enterprises get together with policy specialists and non-state actors to discuss plans for current and future business and societal challenges they share.

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