International News round up (26 March – 8 April 2014)

Canada Arctic Co-operatives, a federation of co-operative enterprises in Canada’s Arctic community, is one of the latest organisations to register for the .coop domain. The federation, which is...


Arctic Co-operatives, a federation of co-operative enterprises in Canada’s Arctic community, is one of the latest organisations to register for the .coop domain. The federation, which is owned and controlled by 31 community-based co-operative enterprises, includes some of the most northerly co-operatives in the world.

Co-op members in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories encompass a wide variety of cultures, dialects and traditional knowledge, and the existing sharing culture has played a key role in the success of the co-operative.

Community owned co-operatives in the Arctic are multi-purpose businesses that provide a variety of services to their members and communities. Services provided by local co-operatives include retail stores, hotel and tourism operations, cable television, arts and craft marketing, fuel distribution, construction and heavy equipment services, property rental and agency services.

In 2012, member co-operatives reported total revenues of USD $196.7m (£118.3). The co-ops are owned and controlled by their 23,600 members and they also employ 900 people in the region.


The International Co-operative Alliance has appointed Balu Iyer as the new regional director for the Asia Pacific office. Mr Iyer, who has extensive experience in international development, aims to develop the Alliance’s work in the region. His main objective is to promote co-operatives and support them in achieving the 2020 vision set out in the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.

Mr Iyer has previously worked with a number of development organisations, including ActionAid India, the International Development Exchange and the Asia Foundation.

“In my work I have carried with me some of the basic principles I learned from my co-operative experience,” he said. “This includes giving individuals a voice, collective action, democratic ownership, leadership, concern for gender equality and ploughing resources back into the community.”


Legislators from all over the world can now refer to an International Handbook of Co-operative Law for guidance on how the seven co-operative principles could be translated into legislation.

The handbook has been edited by Professor Antonio Fici of the University of Trento, Professor Dante Cracogna of the University of Buenos Aires and Hagen Henrÿ, research director of the University of Helsinki Ruralia Institute, who have worked with 35 legal scholars from across the world.

The book examines and frames the state of legislation regarding co-operatives.

“Without adequate legislation and a developed co-operative legal doctrine, co-operatives would be limited in their growth and would face obstacles hard to overcome,” said Prof Fici. While placing a strong emphasis on co-operative identity, the book also provides an analytical and conceptual framework to explain the complexity of co-operative law.


Representatives from Credit Unions in Africa met in Zambia to share ideas and experience at the fifth Saving and Credit Union (SACCO) Leaders Forum.

The event, jointly organised by the African Confederation of Cooperative Savings and Credit Associations (ACCOSCA) and the National Association of Savings and Credit Unions of Zambia (NASCU), gathered 156 participants from across 17 countries.

Delegates also looked at ways in which SACCOs could embrace technology to increase financial inclusion. Many women and young people across Africa continue to be unbanked and SACCOs could play an important role in addressing this situation, credit union leaders agreed. They assessed ways in which SACCOs could work together to brand and promote the credit unions advantage in Africa.


The theme of this year’s International Co-operative Day is “Co-operative enterprises achieve sustainable development for all”. Celebrated by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) on 5 July since 1923, the day is an opportunity for the global co-operative movement to highlight the distinct nature of the co-operative enterprise model. It will also mark the 20th United Nations International Day of Co-operatives.

Last year the ICA launched the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, which sets out the objectives for co-operatives to position themselves as “builders of sustainability”.

In a statement, the ICA reminded co-ops that concern for community is also one of the seven co-operative principles: “We would like to urge co-operatives around the world to use 5 July to showcase how they are the best-placed model to develop and build sustainability in the 21st century.”


In advance of the elections for the European Parliament, Cooperatives Europe has released a manifesto which reveals the organisation’s policy priorities for the coming years.

One of them is creating an EU policy framework for co-operatives. According to the manifesto, Cooperative Europe would like to work with MEPs to revise the EU’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

The regional organisation of the International Co-operative Alliance also aims to increase co-operative awareness among younger people. The manifesto highlights that youth employment within the EU would benefit if young people’s knowledge of co-operatives and other innovative business models were developed. Another goal mentioned in the manifesto refers to the development of a co-operative roadmap to support business start-ups and growth. The manifesto is available online.

In this article

Join the Conversation