Michel Seguin stresses the need for more diversity prior to the International Summit

Professor Michel Séguin, the the Guy Bernier Chair in Co-operative Business at University of Quebec and a former worker at the Desjardins Group, spoke about the International Summit...

Professor Michel Séguin, the the Guy Bernier Chair in Co-operative Business at University of Quebec and a former worker at  the Desjardins Group, spoke about the International Summit in Quebec and the role of co-operatives in a changing economy.

Michel Séguin, a speaker at the Summit, said co-ops could increase diversity in the current economy by proposing a different enterprise model.

He explained “Co-operative enterprises are different from the other business models because they are consumers’ co-operatives.” He continued by saying co-ops give the consumer access to the production process, getting him involved in the decision-making. 

The Professor said co-operatives “function according to the rules of the current global economy” adding they are in constant competition with other enterprises. He added how the core aim of co-operatives is different from the one of traditional enterprises, because they are not subject to stakeholders’ pressures, they only seek to satisfy their members’ interests.

However, Mr Seguin does not believe co-ops are more ethical businesses than other enterprises. Professor Seguin said sustainable development is not an end for co-ops because their main purpose is to offer the best services and satisfy their members’ needs.

Despite this, their structure might enable sustainable development, the advantage of most co-ops being their closure to the community and their involvement of communities.

Members of the co-op live within the community which makes the decision making process favourable to sustainable development of the community, thinks Mr Seguin.

His theory is that the value system in a co-op is determined by two features: the desire to provide the best services and the relationship between the co-op and their members. Members are both clients and owners, being able to get involved in all actions and joining the board. In this way, values such as democracy and equality are being promoted. Thus, argues Mr Seguin, it is need and not values that guides co-ops.

Professor Seguin also said the International Year is a great opportunity for co-ops to raise awareness of their projects. He further added he is not a supporter of the co-operative movement, but the diversity co-ops manage to bring to a business world, dominated by big companies.

“It is important to raise awareness and promote this enterprise model as a distinct one. The IYC is a mirror that enables co-ops to increase awareness over their usefulness”.

Mr Seguin will take part in the “Simultaneous workshops: A changing business model: Winning practices that will ensure cooperative development”.

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