Learn more about co-operatives at Congress in Cardiff

Co-operators from around the country will come together to learn and share experiences at this year’s showcase Co-operatives Fortnight event in Cardiff.

Co-operators from around the country will come together to learn and share experiences at this year’s showcase Co-operatives Fortnight event in Cardiff.

Political, economic and development thinkers will speak alongside co-operators at Co-operative Congress (28th–30th June) sharing their stories of growth, innovation and member engagement.

Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Labour MP for Streatham, will open the weekend event on the Friday evening by outlining the current state of the nation’s business environment and looking at a potential role for co-operatives to play.

He will also join Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Health and Social Services, who will give an overview of the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission, which has been set up to make recommendations on growing and developing the country’s co-op and mutual economy.

On the Saturday, the main plenary session will look at co-operation in the new business landscape and will be hosted by Sarah Dickens, Economics correspondent, BBC Cymru Wales. The first presentation will come from business author Margaret Heffernan who will look at how organisations are now seeing a need to focus on co-operative principles of ownership and engagement for employees.

John Restakis, author of ‘Humanizing the Economy’ and former Executive Director of the British Columbia Co-operative Association, Canada, will discuss how the co-operative economy is getting stronger and showcase some of the world’s thriving co-operative economies.

Later in the day, Derek Walker, Chief Executive, Wales Co-operative Centre, will host a session that will look at creating a business environment for co-operatives.

Andrew Davies, Chair of the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission, will give an overview of the commission’s work and look at how government support can empower change for the movement. While Sarah Deas, Chief Executive, Co-operative Development Scotland, will discuss the impact of business support networks on the growth of co-operatives in Scotland and the national implications.

Pierre Liret, Director of Professional Development at CG SCOP, a worker co-operative development body in France, will talk about the success of setting up co-ops across France, with a specialism in businesses threatened with closure.

The final session on Saturday will hear from a number of co-operators outlining case studies of their success. Clarke Willis, Chief Executive, Anglia Farmers, will look at how the agricultural co-op has become a leader in its field; Ben Reid, Chief Executive, Midcounties Co-operative will discuss the strategies behind the society’s expansion into new markets with Co-operative Energy and Co-operative Childcare; and Laura Sim, Head of Marketing and Development at HF Holidays, will talk about how member engagement has created growth over 100 years.

The final day of the event will focus on innovation and new opportunities for the movement. Indy Johar, Architect and Regeneration Consultant, will talk about open co-operatives as a new model for working and look at how digital innovation can be harnessed and accelerated through collaborative models of enterprise.

While Rebecca Harding, economist and CEO of Delta Economics, will present on co-operative entrepreneurship, or ways in which enterprise can be rooted in a much wider set of realities than the model of a lone predator.

The latest iteration of the Co-operative Economy report, which lists the top 100 performing
co-operatives in the UK, will also be released on the final day. Delegates have the opportunity to discuss the main findings and the impact on the movement.

In closing the event, Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, will look at the future of co-operation with the ICA’s Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade. The Blueprint outlines a plan to ensure co-operatives are the fastest growing form of enterprise by the year 2020.

• To find out more, visit: uk.coop/congress

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