The 2019 Rochdale Pioneers Award has been presented to Howard Brodsky of CCA Global Partners and Kim Byeong-won, chair of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF) of the Republic of Korea.
The award is the highest honour the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) bestows. It aims to recognise, in the spirit of the Rochdale Pioneers, an individual or an organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to the global cooperative movement. The 2019 ceremony took place during a gala dinner at the ICA International Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.
Previous winners include former Co-operatives UK chief executive and ICA president, Dame Pauline Green; the Plunkett Foundation; and late IHCO President, Dr José Carlos Guisado.
Howard Brodsky is chair, co-chief executive and co-founder of CCA Global Partners, a shared services cooperative with 13 affiliated companies with aggregated sales of over $10 billion. Its businesses are active in the flooring industry, as well as childcare, sport retail and interior design. Mr Brodsky dedicated his career to creating a cooperative retail powerhouse in the marketplace. He actively promoted the cooperative model as a means for entrepreneurs to scale, access resources and achieve innovation. Through its purchasing co-ops, CCA Global was able to bring the co-operative model to businesses that had never been involved in the sector.
Kim Byeong-won leads Korea’s agricultural cooperative federation. In this role, he led efforts to increase farmers’ annual income using the cooperative model to cut prices of farming tools, access markets and adopt new technology. NACF also helped to improve welfare assistance for 50,000 elderly farmers by setting up a call centre in 2017. A year later the federation started running mobile medical centres, which helped to provide healthcare services to 20,000 farmers.
ICA President Ariel Guarco presented the award to the two cooperators. He said: “The ICA received many nominations for the Award this year. The two individuals who were chosen stood out because of their commitment to cooperatives throughout their life, and their important contribution to the cooperative movement and cooperative development not only in their own countries but also globally.”
Mr Brodsky, whose father emigrated from Russia and set up a carpet business in the USA, took over the family’s enterprise after graduating from college. He set up a cooperative to be able to achieve scale.
Accepting the award, he said: “It is the highest honour in the cooperative world and to be the first American is even more meaningful to me.
“I’ve seen the power of coops and the way coops can help reduce inequality more than any other form of business. It’s not understood by so many people but in a world where inequality is growing … co-ops are an amazing answer to empowering people, having shared ownership, shared opportunities and shared wealth.”
Mr Byeong-won said: “I am deeply honoured to receive the Rochdale award, the highest honour for cooperators.
“We have a lot of challenges ahead of us. We need to show the identity of cooperatives and do our best to elevate the rise of cooperatives all over the world. This award should be shared with the one billion cooperators.”
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