Co-operative business leaders from across New Zealand met in Auckland for a national forum on 3 March.
Organised by Cooperative Business New Zealand, the event let co-operators share successful stories and learn from each other, and saw a speech by Simon Bridges, minister for economic development, transport and communications, and associate minister for finance.
He said: “You’re a really big part of the economy and you’ve stayed very strong for a long time. You’re responsible for 20% of our GDP and those profits and value stay local.”
Delegates also heard from Dr Lisa Callagher from the University of Auckland’s Business School and Dr Elena Garnevska from Massey University, who discussed their recent report, The New Zealand Co-operative Economy.
“This independent survey, the results of which can be found on our website, provides a much-needed glimpse into a sector of significant economic and social importance to New Zealand,”said Craig Presland, chief executive of Cooperative Business New Zealand.
“Our top 30 co-operatives and mutuals generate annual revenues of more than NZD $42.3bn which equates to 17.5% of New Zealand’s GDP, while being responsible for 1.4 million memberships and the employment of 48,500 Kiwis.”
He added: “We now have the opportunity to extend this research further into such areas as what makes the co-operative business model one of sustainability – economically, environmentally and socially.”
Mr Presland said he also hoped to see “further comparisons internationally including why there is almost a complete lack of co-operatives within the New Zealand public sector”.
Cooperative Business New Zealand brings together co-ops, mutual and societies from across sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, banking, education, health, wholesale and retail.
“We had an outstanding line-up of speakers representing the broad spectrum of New Zealand co-operatives, mutual and societies,” added Mr Presland.
“With the co-operative sector representing about one-fifth of our economy, and almost one in three Kiwis now being served as a member of a co-operative, mutual or society, this sector represents the backbone of our economy.
“These are sustainable and enduring businesses with many trusted brands, products and services that been provided locally and internationally for decades and even centuries.”