International News round up (12-25 March 2014)

Belgium / Brussels Co-operatives active in industry and services across Europe published a manifesto for the 2014 European Parliament elections. In the manifesto, CECOP, the European Confederation of...

Belgium / Brussels

Co-operatives active in industry and services across Europe published a manifesto for the 2014 European Parliament elections. In the manifesto, CECOP, the European Confederation of co-operatives and worker-owned enterprises active in industry and services, sets out the top priorities for the next legislature, and highlights the impact co-operatives have on creating jobs, especially for young people. It also calls for business support services for mutuals and regulatory frameworks for the creation of co-operatives.

CECOP suggests that both national and European-wide policies support the establishment of co-operatives by young people through the implementation of legal frameworks. In addition, it calls for the re-establishment of a unit inside the European Commission to oversee co-operatives, and the continuity of the Social Economy Intergroup in the European Parliament during the next legislature.

The manifesto is available online.

Canada / Quebec

Over 150 co-operators, economists and academics will take part in this year’s International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec on 6-9 October. The second edition of the summit will feature speakers from across different sectors, including: Jeffrey Sachs, economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University; Michael Beall, president and chief executive of the National Cooperative Business Association; Marcela Villarreal, director (gender, equality and rural development division) of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); and Bruno Roelants, secretary general of CICOPA.

Together they will explore the five main themes of the 2014 summit:

  • Developing co-operative and mutual enterprises
  • Economics
  • Financing and capitalisation
  • Employment
  • Food security and health and social care services.

International / Brussels

Oliver Wyman, a leading global management consulting firm, has published a new report on co-operative banks which highlights the challenges and opportunities ahead. The report is a follow-up to two successful surveys on co-operative banks carried out by the firm. It assess the current state of co-operative banks across Europe through looking at the relationships between the banks, their members and clients, and their contributions to communities.

The report reveals that two thirds of co-operative banks participating in the study have developed projects to help less-favoured client segments. Co-operative banks also donate to social action three times more than their shareholder-owned counterparts (as a share of revenues).

According to the report, banks need to diversify their membership, being under-represented in the younger customer segment. It also suggests that co-operative banks use technology to rejuvenate the co-operative relationship.

The report is available online.

Kenya / USA

The Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA), the international arm of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), has received $2.4m (£1.4m) from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to extend its Yes Youth Can! in Kenya.

This will extend the programme until August 2014 and will consolidate the results achieved, helping to increase youth advocacy and women’s participation in leadership roles. As part of the programme, NCBA CLUSA will continue to oversee the management of the Yes Youth Can! investment and grant funds, which will be available through SACCOs (credit unions).

NCBA CLUSA began its first projects in Kenya more than 10 years ago, while Yes Youth Can! was developed by USAID to support youth-led recovery and development in areas that experienced violence following the 2008 elections.


The Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) has hosted its first Coopow! Comics and Manga Design CompetitionSNCF chief, executive Dolly Goh, said the quality of submissions, which included entries by participants as young as seven years old, had surpassed her expectations.

The competition stimulated young people to create compelling visual messages that tell the story of co-operatives, and builds on the SNCF’s various youth programmes, which have succeeded in getting young people involved in co-operatives.

Ms Goh said that these programmes are essential in forming future co-operative leaders. The co-op movement in Singapore is currently run by experienced veterans who have been involved for a very long time – young people can learn from them and through this engage with co-operative values and principles from a very early age.


New Cork Co-operative has opened a new €5m (£4.18m) milk powder processing plant in Kanturk. The plant is one of the most modern and efficient facilities in Ireland, able to produce high quality milk powders, as well as casein, butter and liquid milk.

Minister for agriculture, food and marine, Simon Coveney, was present at the official opening of the plant. He praised the co-operative for its innovative investment, saying Irish food businesses needed to operate at world-class levels of performance to grow their share of export markets.

New Cork Co-operative has benefited from Enterprise Ireland’s Lean Business Transformation Programme, which was designed to support business and boost economic growth. As part of the programme, enterprises receive up to €1,900 a week to cover the costs of fees for an external consultant of international reputation or employee training.

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