Because cooperatives use their assets to capitalize their organization, their lifespan is twice that of traditional businesses. That's what Michel Lafleur said in a January 10, 2012 interview with Radio-Canada.
Director of the Canadian-based Institut de recherche et d'éducation pour les coopératives et les mutuelles de l'Université de Sherbrooke (IRECUS), Mr. Lafleur was invited to talk about the cooperative model as the International Year of Cooperatives kicks off.
Michel Lafleur is also head of the human resources management department at the Université de Sherbrooke and a member of the program validation committee for the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives.
In the interview, Mr. Lafleur explained the main differences between the cooperative and corporate economic models. To ensure their survival, cooperatives reinvest their surpluses, which makes them generally more profitable and better capitalized than traditional businesses. These investments in the organization's capitalization allow cooperatives to improve the quality of services they provide to their members.
He cited the example of funeral cooperatives in Quebec, which previously had the highest funeral costs in Canada. He said that in just a few decades, these costs had been cut in half because of cooperatives. 2012 declared the International Year of Cooperatives: it was time! Mr. Lafleur said it was high time that cooperatives received the recognition they deserve. It was long overdue, especially with the ongoing economic crisis that began in 2008.
He said that by declaring 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives, the United Nations and cooperatives are saying that the cooperative model is part of the solution to the crisis and that it's possible to create and share wealth at the same time. We can have both.
Mr. Lafleur said that the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives will meet these two main objectives. First, it will allow people to come together to address the major challenges of internationalization and then convince decision-makers that the cooperative model is unique and needs to play a greater role in the global economy.
• The interview was conducted in French. To listen, go to: http://www.radio-canada.ca/emissions/lapres-midi_porte_conseil/2011-2012/chronique.asp?idChronique=194941 (Length: 10:25 min)