International News round-up: 24 March

Vatican City Co-operatives promote the economy of honesty, says Pope Francis. At a meeting of 7,000 members of the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives, the Pope said: “The Church...

Vatican City

Co-operatives promote the economy of honesty, says Pope Francis. At a meeting of 7,000 members of the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives, the Pope said: “The Church has always acknowledged, appreciated and encouraged the co-operative experience.”

He said the co-op sector was on “a real mission that requires creative imagination to find forms, methods, attitudes and tools to combat the throwaway culture cultivated by the powers that support the economic and financial policies of the globalised world”.

He said the sector should continue to lift and develop the “weakest part of our local communities and of civil society”, especially for the young.

Co-ops also need to focus on new welfare solutions to enable access to healthcare for all, he added, because this is “a delicate field where many poor people no longer find their needs adequately met”.



Youth-led co-operatives are being established in Bhutan, India and Nepal with a focus on concern for the community.

The International Co-operative Alliance’s Asia-Pacific youth committee has initiated the pilot projects, with inspiration from youth co-operatives in Japan.

At a recent gathering of youth co-operators in Kathmandu, Mr Balu Iyer, regional director of the ICA, highlighted the successful youth-led co-operative movements in Japan as well as in the western hemisphere.

One outcome of the seminar was to establish a core group of youth volunteers and mobilise youth movements into forming social benefit co-operatives.



Co-ops working in the green economy are bringing opportunities to Andalusia, says a report.

The Andalusia Federation of Worker Co-operatives said co-ops tend to use local resources and set out sustainable long-term objectives, bringing benefits to society.

The main sectors of employment in the green economy are livestock farming and energy. Andalusia is witnessing a boom in ecological agriculture initiatives, and is also seeing increased opportunity from the management of natural spaces.

The region currently has 7,827 co-ops. Of these, 132 are active in the green sector and 25 in the blue economy (sustainable enterprises in the marine and maritime sectors). Another 12 co-ops offer environmental education, while 21 provide environmental services.

Co-ops can also be found in recycling (15), ecotourism (15), eco agriculture (seven) and renewable energy and bio construction (nine).


Canada  |  Quebec

Quebec’s co-op movement has launched a plan to create and maintain 20,000 jobs by 2020.

Monique Leroux, chair of regional body CQCM and chief executive of financial group Desjardins, announced the Strategic Plan for Quebec’s Co-operative and Mutualist Networks: Looking to 2020 at the organisation’s annual meeting.

“Our plan was drafted to support the economic and social momentum of members, communities and all of Quebec,” she said. “It suggests the co-op and mutualist model as a way to meet Quebec’s socio-economic needs, particularly regarding land occupancy.”

The plan gives co-ops and mutuals a common vision of growth, sound financial management, innovation and performance.

As a partner in the plan, the government of Quebec is set to renew a partnership agreement with the CQCM to help the sector reach its objectives, particularly job creation.



Co-operatives in Rwanda are waiting for an investor to help capitalise a new bank which will finance most of their projects.

The idea, which arose after local commercial banks proved reluctant to invest in co-op projects, will require an initial investment of 5bn Rwandan francs (£5m) under the country’s laws.

The Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), the umbrella of all co-ops in the country, said the investor will be offered a 40% (2bn RWF) stake.

Last year, during the International Co-operative Day celebrations, the country’s president, Paul Kagame, underlined the need for a co-op bank. He said: “It’s a matter of choice. When people are together, they minimise the impact of losses and multiply benefits.”

Damien Mugabo, head of the agency, said the co-ops have already mobilized 60% of the capital. And with over 2.5million members from 4,000 different co-ops, the agency has a total investment capacity of over 150bn RWF (£147m). Mr Mugabo says the co-ops can easily raise 3bn RWF “in just a week”.

A 2013 survey found that all the 17 banks in Rwanda find agriculture a very risky sector for investment.



Australia’s member-owned businesses, which contribute more than 6% of the country’s GDP, are critical to long-term job creation and the alleviation of welfare dependency, says a government inquiry into welfare reform.

The McClure Report recommends that the government works with the representative body for Australia’s co-operatives, the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals, to encourage the growth of the sector.

It says co-ops generate positive social outcomes for people and communities; generate economic and social resilience; and achieve higher levels of consumer engagement and employee well-being in the delivery of services.

BCCM chief executive Melina Morrison said: “The government has recognised that co-operatives and mutuals are an essential part of civil society. We are the original community business partners, with a locally owned ‘jobs compact’ mentality in our DNA.

“The report’s recommendation that the federal government ensure an enabling regulatory, economic, and social environment to support co-operatives and mutuals reinforces the imminent need for the proposed senate inquiry into the barriers and impediments faced by our sector.”

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