Co-operative experience: Dr Aquino has been involved in the Brazilian co-op movement for over 30 years, and a member of the Alliance’s board since 2009. he is currently the president of Unimed, the largest system of medical co-ops in the world – and the largest healthcare network in Brazil.
Agenda for the Alliance: He says he would implement at global level what is already happening within the co-operative movement in Brazil.
One focus is raising the profile of the co-operative identity by working with governments, universities and social and finance entities to help develop joint initiatives. He advocates a strategic consultancy for those wishing to create new co-ops at a regional level.
He would also work on building a more dynamic relationship between the Alliance and its regional offices, providing more support and technical assistance and working on common projects.
And he wants the Alliance to encourage and promote commercial trade between co-operatives of different sectors.
Dr Aquino added he would also work to ensure better legal frameworks are in place by drafting a Great Charter of Co-operatives. In his country he has participated in the creation of the Co-operative Parliamentary Group that brings together 15% of Brazil’s members of parliament.
Sustainability: Unimed holds a Sustainability Award, and evaluates its co-ops’ initiatives to improve their sustainability record.
As the world’s population continues to age, co-operatives like Unimed can be of particular significance, says Dr Aquino, adding that there must be a focus on prevention rather than simply the treatment of disease.
He says: “In terms of capital, we need to generate possibilities for the financing of co-operatives around the world, seeking resources in development organisations, as well as with the United Nations and other global entities.”
What the movement can learn from Brazil: A federation of 354 medical co-ops, which offer services to more than 20 million customers, Unimed has created a common identity through digital communication tools and social media. It has over 109,000 active physicians and 106 hospitals, as well as laboratories and related services.
Around 12% of Brazil’s population is a client, while the medical giant covers over 83% of the national territory and accounts for 32% of the national health insurance market.
Unimed is also using the .coop domain. The federation is now the 21st most valuable brand in Brazil, an increase from 10 years ago, when it was placed in 32rd place. It has also been named the country’s top health insurance brand.
Dr Aquino thinks that co-operative identity and governance go hand in hand. Unimed uses a Co-operative Governance Manual with the aim of adapting corporate governance to the rules of co-operatives to ensure all its co-ops use the same management model.
As president of the Alliance, Dr Aquino says he would set out standard models for co-operatives worldwide, while taking into account the specific nature of all sectors.
For more information: www.eudesaquino.coop.br