When past inspires future: How cooperatives and mutuals contribute to building a better world
QUEBEC, Oct. 9, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - The Institut de recherche et d'éducation pour les coopératives et les mutuelles de l'Université de Sherbrooke (IRECUS) is revealing the results of a study carried on for the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives. This new study asks original questions and discovers surprising findings.
How do cooperatives and mutuals contribute to building a better world? What is their socioeconomic impact? Strong of a heritage of almost three centuries of reflection and practice, these businesses represent, still today, one of the great organizational innovations. If they were a country, the 300 largest cooperatives and mutuals would be the 9th world economy and the largest democracy in the world.
The study shows that cooperatives and mutuals participate in economic, political and social stability and regulation. Effectively, they survive better to crises than other businesses, they take care of their members in times of struggle or natural disaster (for example, after tsunami in Japan) and because they have a significant influence on the market (4 out of 10 largest dairy transformation businesses are cooperatives). They accomplish that while providing almost 4 million jobs in the world.
Cooperatives and mutuals also secure equitable access to goods and services. Indeed, they meet the needs of territory or populations harder to reach, such as the utility cooperatives do in United States (where 42% of electric distribution is made by cooperatives). Thanks to revenues of almost 2000 billion US$ (that is more than the world fuel exports), to the creation of reserves of 867 billion US$ and to annual patronage dividends to members of approximately 66 billion US$, cooperatives and mutuals generate and equitably distribute wealth for their members and communities.
With 725 million members, who are simultaneously users and owners, the 300 largest cooperatives and mutuals represent the largest democracy in the world, as well as humanist school of entrepreneurship promoting economic, political and social diversity and inclusion.
Being able to adapt the model to cultural and political specificities, cooperatives and mutuals contribute to identity building and recognition. In fact, what would Quebec look like without Desjardins, the Basque country without Mondragon or rural areas without agricultural cooperatives?
Because they put human, its dignity and fulfillment, first and at the center of their project, cooperatives and mutuals pursue economic and social changes, within a dynamic of peace. Hopefully, these findings will encourage the cooperative and mutual movement, different decision-making bodies, educational institutions and general public to recognize the strength and importance of these innovative and educative businesses.
About the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives
More than 2,500 decision-makers and influential figures from the international cooperative and mutualist community will attend the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec City and Lévis, Canada, from October 8 to 11, 2012. Under the theme "The Amazing Power of Cooperatives," the Summit aims to offer solutions that will promote the development and performance of cooperatives and mutuals so that they are better prepared to meet the economic and financial challenges they face. Visit: www.2012intlsummit.coop.
The Institut de recherche et d'éducation pour les coopératives et les mutuelles de l'Université de Sherbrooke (IRECUS) was created in 1976. It brings together teachers, researchers, students, cooperators and mutualists to carry out, using the cooperative paradigm, multidisciplinary educational and research activities in the management and development of cooperatives and mutuals.
For more information about IRECUS, please visit www.usherbrooke.ca/irecus (in French only).
SOURCE: 2012 INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT OF COOPERATIVES
For further information:
Michel Lafleur, Director, IRECUS
819-821-8000, extension 63227 or 67220