International news round up (23 April – 6 May 2014)

USA: In March, the Organization of American States (OEA), Co-operatives of the Americas (formerly ICA Americas) and the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) jointly organised the first co-operative...


In March, the Organization of American States (OEA), Co-operatives of the Americas (formerly ICA Americas) and the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) jointly organised the first co-operative event held at the OEA’s premises in Washington. It is the first time such a joint event has been organised, and as such is a historical event for the co-operative movement

The event, themed Co-operatives in the Americas: Driving Economic growth with equality and inclusion, brought together over 180 co-operative managers, representatives from OEA and its member states, NGOs and international organisations to discuss key issues and opportunities facing the sector.

Experts took part in discussions on the opportunities for, and barriers to, co-operative growth and development, while deputy secretary general of the OEA, Albert Ramdin, highlighted the common values shared by the co-operative movement and the inter-American system.

“The way towards sustainable and inclusive development requires the common effort of many actors,” he said. “Substantial investment from governments, the civil society and the private sector is required in order to create efficient associations that bring the best out of each sector.”



For the first time, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has amended banking rules in favour of mutuals. The move will give credit unions, building societies and mutual banks more flexibility to issue regulatory capital instruments while retaining their structure.

In April, the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) of Australia highlighted the importance of mutuals in financial service delivery. In a submission to the Australian government’s financial system inquiry, the BCMM emphasised how mutuals play a crucial role in increasing diversity and growing the Australian economy in a strong and competitive financial system. It also questioned the assumption that Australia has a competitive and diverse financial services sector with effective competition in the market.

In Australia, the four banks account for over 80% or total lending and almost 90% of home lending. Yet, according to the BCCM, a number of mutual banks, credit unions and building societies often offer very competitive rates compared to these big four banks.


The European Investment Bank (EIB) will be granting the Co-operative Central Bank of Cyprus (CCB) a €25m loan aimed at small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in an attempt to stimulate job growth.

An initial finance agreement between the two organisations was signed at a public ceremony in Nicosia attended by Harris Georgiades, minister of finance; Werner Hoyer, EIB president; Mihai Tănăsescu, EIB vice president; and Marios Clerides, general manager of CCB.

The CCB was established in 1937 to provide financial services to co-operative enterprises and their members, and today is one of the largest financial institutions in Cyprus, with over 3,000 employees.

The EIB started co-operating with CCB in 2010, but this is EIB’s first bank-intermediated operation in Cyprus since the financial crisis struck the country over a year ago. Previous EIB loans to CCB have benefited over 260 SMEs and, says My Hoyer, the new loan will further help growth.



Coop FR, France’s national co-operative body, has been promoting economic and educational co-operation as part of Co-operation Week at School – a joint initiative run Coop FR and the Central Office for Co-operation in Schools (OCCE).

The week took place in March, and saw the two organisations hosting various events in schools across France which enabled students to find out more about the social and economic benefits of co-operation. They engaged in debates on co-operation, took part in co-operative games and visited co-op enterprises.

Coop FR and OCCE have also worked together to publish a guide designed to help and encourage high school social science and economics teachers to teach the values of co-operation. The book is written by sociologist Jean-François Draperi, who is the editor of the International Review of Social Economy (RECMA), and offers a general overview of the co-operative model, with a look at the various types of co-operative enterprises.



Co-operatives of the Americas (formerly ICA Americas) has teamed up with the Confederation of Co-operatives of Paraguay (CONPACOOP) to help develop a model of education and training.

The two organisations have agreed to elaborate a common methodology on co-operative education for CONPACOOP’s members, particularly focusing on raising awareness of co-operative values and principles among co-operative employees. As part of this development process, the two organisations have delivered three seminars, which will be repeated in Peru and Paraguay in May.

Each seminar focuses on a specific module, such as teaching and learning theories, the importance of setting learning targets and the use of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains. Participants also examine the abilities required to teach co-operation.

In a second seminar, participants learn about the availability of academic resources and assessment methods, while the third explores effective techniques of addressing the public and the use of media and other teaching resources.

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