DotCoop announces Global Awards winners in Cape Town

DotCoop has announced the winners of this year’s dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence. The Awards were presented at the General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance in...

DotCoop has announced the winners of this year’s dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence. The Awards were presented at the General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance in Cape Town.

The accolades are designed to enable all co-operatives, no matter the size, to have the opportunity to win. Coop Zeno Candia, a credit union from Puerto Rico, took the award for the large co-operative category. The co-operative provides cutting-edge technology that enables its 35,000 members to use the Internet and mobile services.

The co-operative has also established a Youth Committee composed of students of secondary schools and university students. The Youth Committee is attached to the Educational Committee of the co-op and is in charge of lectures, orientations, seminars and workshops on co-operative education to elementary and secondary schools. This approach helped it attract more young members.

Coop Zeno offers a wide range of products and services at their four branches across the island and a virtual branch that they call the “Virtual Coop”. It has also worked with other credit unions with the aim of creating an Alliance to finance the construction of low-income housing and given commercial loans to companies to expand their operations. In 2012 they created a small business development programme called EMPRENDE through which they granted micro credit loans to new and existing businesses. Committed to implementing the agenda of the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, Zeno Coop is encouraging co-operatives from all over the world to work with other co-operatives in their respective countries to acquire land and preserve it in its natural state, creating forest sanctuaries.

The award for the medium category co-operatives went to the First Alternative Cooperative, a US retailer with more than 7,000 members. A business focused on its members’ needs, First Alternative Cooperative provides natural and organic food to local communities in Oregon. Through its website, the co-operative is engaging its customers while informing them about buying local and wellness.

As part of their initial efforts in support of the Blueprint goals, First Alternative has been taking the lead in the development of a Local Six Cooperative Alliance.  Local Six includes the county where the co-operative is located as well as the five counties that border it.

The co-operative has also played a key role in raising awareness of the International Year of Co-operatives. They hosted in their store the Mayoral Proclamation of the Year of the Cooperative and the premiere party for the “Lights, Cameras, Co-ops” film which showed the important contribution of agricultural co-operatives. The dotCoop Award is not the first prize received by First Alternative. In 2006 the co-operative was honoured with the Business of the Year and The Best Grocery Store in Corvallis awards.

Another co-operative awarded by dotCoop was Cooperativa Orientación y Seguridad of Colombia, in the category for small co-operatives. The co-op, which has less than USD $5 million in revenues, provides monitoring, private security and investigations for hospitals and is based in Bogota, Colombia.

The co-operative is particularly focused on strengthening its website, where workers can gain access to shift work information, payment reports and certifications. They also make intensive use of social media to promote their activities.

Orientación & Seguridad is also part of the network of co-operative communicators, an initiative created by the Asociación de Cooperativas (ASCOOP) which aims to establish the community co-operative model as an accepted way to create a business in Colombia.

To assess the quality of the training provided, the co-operative is implementing a semi-annual satisfaction survey, enabling members to express their views and suggest ideas. This survey measures aspects such as the fulfilment of the co-operative’s responsibilities to the worker, the benefits that the worker receives as a co-operative partner and their relationship with co-workers and bosses.

The Canadian Co-operative Association is the 2013 winner in the category for co-operative organisations. As the national association for co-operatives, the CCA represents over nine million co-operative and credit union members from over 2,000 organisations.

Seeking to promote the International Year of Co-operatives, CCA worked with its members to develop an online orientation programme called Discover the Co-operative Difference. This new learning opportunity lets visitors walk down a virtual ‘co-operative main street’.

This is only one of CCA’s projects aimed at promoting co-operative ideas and principles, particularly among the youth. The Association works directly with college professors and university centre to reach students on programs such as the online orientation. CCA has focused on this connection with youth by developing a National Young Co-operators (NYC) committee. Through this committee, CCA is running a mentorship which pairs young co-operative professionals with senior people in the co-operative sector in their area of work.

CCA has also supported the 2012 Year of Co-operatives including a national launch with 14 locations across Canada connected virtually – www.canada2012.coop.

Building on the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, the Association has developed a series of projects aimed at growing the Co-operative Movement. It runs a webinar on co-operative identity and is working on a national study on the impact of co-operatives in Canada including economic and social markers.

As part of the awards, the winning co-operatives and co-operative organisations received funds to enable them to participate in ICA’s Global Conference and General Assembly.

“We received applications from co-ops around the world and across co-operative sectors,” said Carolyn Hoover, chief executive officer of dotCoop. “We’re extremely pleased with the turnout of this year’s competition and the quality of the entries,” she said, thanking the sponsors of the awards for their support.

The awards are given every two years to co-operatives who have shown a great commitment to promoting co-operative values and principles. This year the awards sought to recognise the contribution of some co-operatives and co-operative organisations to making the case for the International Year of Co-operatives.

DotCooperation LLC (dotCoop) is the sponsor of the .coop domain and responsible for management of the .coop registry and verification of registrants. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International, the US-based apex organisation for co-operative businesses and an international development agency, with projects in 15 countries around the world.

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