Members of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) youth network gathered online yesterday to hear from the four candidates for the presidency of the ICA Youth Network Executive Committee.
The candidates, Ana Aguirre, Leslie Alvarado, Linah Sohelo and Mabruck Mpangule, put forward their aims and aspirations for the Youth Committee presidency and took questions from young co-operators during the session.
Ana Aguirre, who currently serves as vice president for Europe in the ICA Youth Network and Executive Committee, was the first to present. Ms Aguirre is co-founder of TAZEBAEZ S.Coop, and has been involved in the ICA Youth Network over the course of its development into the ICA Youth Committee.
Ms Aguirre outlined entrepreneurship, technology and representation of the work done by young co-operators as key areas of focus if she were to become president. On the point of representation, Ms Aguirre was keen to highlight that “youth talks about more than just youth”, and there should be young voices heard on a range of issues throughout the ICA across various sectors and fields. “I think that there is a stereotype of youth talking about youth, and being inexperienced, and I think we can break that… I think we can bring a huge amount of expertise.”
Leslie Alvarado was the next to present, outlining four key points he would focus on as president: representation of young co-operators within the ICA network, engagement of young co-operators outside of the ICA network, entrepreneurship, and wider global youth(those not currently involved in the co-op movement). Mr Alvarado’s co-operative experience includes his work with the Instituto Panameño Autónomo Cooperativo (IPACOOP), an association which promotes co-ops in his home country of Panama.
In his closing statement, Mr Alvaro stressed the importance of shared leadership within the Youth Committee. “We have to embrace the diversity of our personalities, cultures, and our regions and take into account that to achieve our common goals we have to stay together because that is the only way that we can develop ourselves, not just as co-operativist professionals, but also as persons in a diverse society where the economic and social distribution will be equal and fair for everyone.”
Next up was Linah Sohelo, who has been working for the past seven years at Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives. Ms Sohelo explained that a key piece of work for her as president would be to protect and expand the ICA Youth Network through innovative ideas that can be piloted at the ICA regional level.
She also highlighted training and capacity building as a key area of focus, adding that this training would also help young people to understand why co-ops are relevant to them, as well as increasing young people’s awareness of the ICA and its work.
Ms Sohelo ended by quoting Nelson Mandela: “To echo what Nelson Mandela said some years back, that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. So I believe that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Let us all give this youth a chance to be able to show us what tomorrow looks like.”
The final candidate to present was Mabruck Mpangule, an accountant at Runali Co-operative Union in Tanzania, who got involved with the ICA Youth Network in 2019. The priorities Mr Mpangule laid out in his presentation included the execution of the ICA Youth Network’s existing Action Plan, to expand the ICA Youth Network membership and to build a “global village” of co-op youth who speak a common language around co-operation.
Mr Mpangule stressed the importance of the youth to the wider co-op movement, which he has discovered during his time as a co-operator, describing the youth as the “engine” of the co-op movement: “When you remove the engine from the vehicle, the vehicle cannot start. So when you remove youth from the co-operative movement, the co-operative movement will not develop at all.”
The ICA Youth Network was set up in 2003 to give advice, help and representation to the co-operative youth movement. The wider co-operative youth network is now represented by the ICA Youth Committee which is led by the ICA Youth Network Executive Committee.
The ICA Youth Network Executive Committee consists of nine members: a president, a vice president for each of the ICA’s for regions and four members at large. It exists to represent and respond to the needs of the ICA’s youth members.
Members of the ICA Youth Committee and its Youth Network will be able to vote for a presidential candidate electronically between 11 and 16 April 2022.
More information about the candidates, and how to join the ICA Youth Committee can be found here.