Charles Gould, ICA Director-General's Blog, Not Just Business as Usual, dated 25 April 2012
Noreena Hertz, at the School of Finance at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, has written recently about the need, in this post-luxe era, to replace Gucci capitalism with coop capitalism. In an article in Wired magazine, she describes Gucci capitalism as assuming that we are selfish, super-individualistic beings who care only about maximising our wealth, salaries and resources, in contrast to co-op capitalism, which prioritizes collective destiny-it values the network.
ICA is working hard during this International Year of Co-operatives to make sure that the world is aware of this difference. Our priority this year is on public awareness: to increase public awareness of the co-operative as a serious, values-based model of enterprise where the individual has a meaningful voice.
We've opened a communications office in the UK, and we have established a relationship with a global communications and media relations firm there-Fenton-with the intent to plant our substantive messages in mainstream media.
If you unpack our public awareness message, there are three key components to it: the co-operative is a serious enterprise model; it's values-based; the members control it-you have a voice.
We're leading with the first message, that the co-operative is a serious enterprise model, because we believe it is the least understood. ICA publishes a list of the 300 largest co-operatives in the world. Last year's list reported that those 300 co-operatives had an annual turnover of USD 1.6T, equal to the world's 9th largest economy.
The co-operative model is a thing of beauty at a community level, but it is scalable. It has proven its credibility as a serious enterprise model. We need to ensure that co-operatives are not marginalised as a small enterprise model in a world without legitimate alternatives. We need to resist what Stephen Yeo referred to recently, in a column in the Co-operative News, as the notion that "Small is beautiful. Invisible is even better."
We have a story of success to share: the prominence of Italian co-operatives in that nation's economy; the success of the Raiffeisen model; the health system embedded in the Japanese agricultural co-operatives. Our public awareness strategy is getting these stories out, in the context of the impact they are having.