The US Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC) has presented two awards to co-operative leaders for their work in international development.
The International Cooperative Champion Award goes to Paul Clark, who was nominated by National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Mr Clark worked for NRECA from 1981 to 2008 in a variety of roles including senior advisor and vice president, delivering development projects primarily in Asia and South America.
In a video tribute from former colleagues, NRECA’s senior vice president Dan Waddle shared a number of projects he had worked on with Mr Clark. “In each of these seminal projects Paul created the vision and saw it through to the end,” he said, “never taking no for an answer and never wavering in his desire to support electric co-operatives.
“It’s been an honour and a pleasure to work with Paul over all these years. He’s been one of my closest colleagues and is truly deserving of this award.”
Mr Clark also served on the OCDC board of directors, which said he had been “instrumental” in securing increased funding for the Cooperative Development Programme.
Qualities of statesmanship, lasting achievement, co-op advancement, recognition and business practice were considered when reviewing nominations. “Paul Clark embodies all of these as a key champion of rural electric cooperatives over his 40+ year career,” said OCDC.
The International Cooperative Innovation Award went to the Uruguayan Confederation of Cooperative Entities (CUDECOOP) and the National Institute of Cooperatives (INACOOP). They were nominated by US co-op apex NCBA CLUSA for the development of SICOOP – an interco-operative platform that facilitates commerce between 750 co-ops including consumer, production and housing co-ops, credit unions and other SMEs.
Founded in 2018, SICOOP has seen over 32,000 transactions take place through its platform, with participating co-ops enjoying a 32-52% reduction in credit financing costs.
Speaking in an online ceremony, representatives from CUDECOOP and INACOOP stressed the importance of their partnership, which had made the foundation of SICOOP possible.
OCDC said it considered sustainability, co-op advancement, leadership and use of new practices when considering nominations, and was “pleased to highlight SICOOP as an innovative platform to combat market challenges in Uruguay”.
“There is nothing cookie-cutter about creating a more equitable and sustainable world and this is reflected in the work of CUDECOOP and INACOOP in developing the SICOOP platform,” OCDC added.