B20 final recommendations highlight co-ops’ potential in employment, SMEs growth and education

The B20’s final set of policy recommendations to the G20 includes mentions of how the co-op model can contribute in different sectors

The final set of policy recommendations of the B20 Summit under the German presidency to the G20 include mentions of the role of co-operative models in employment generation, fostering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and promoting entrepreneurship.

The aim of the B20 Germany summit was to identify recommendations towards framework conditions that foster innovation, economic growth and job creation. Throughout the year representatives from the co-operative and mutual sector, including the International Co-operative Alliance, have taken part in B20 meetings presenting views and examples from the co-op movement.

The final summit took place in Berlin on 2-3 May under the motto “Resilience, Responsibility, Responsiveness – Towards a future-oriented, Sustainable World Economy”. The B20 included five taskforces, which focused on: Trade and Investment; Energy, Climate and Resource Efficiency; Financing Growth and Infrastructure; Digitization; and Employment and Education.

Co-ops were represented at various meetings by Alliance president, Monique Leroux, who was a co-chair of the B20 Cross-Thematic Group for Small and Medium Enterprises and a member of the Financing Growth and Infrastructure Group. Alliance director general, Charles Gould, was a member of the Responsible Businesses group and policy director, Rodrigo Gouveia, was on the B20’s Coordination Group. Andrew Crane, from CBH co-operative in Australia, was a member of the SME group, and ICMIF chief executive, Shaun Tarbuck, was a member of the Financing Growth and Infrastructure Group.

Co-operative representatives, including Alliance president Monique Leroux (centre), at the B20 final summit in Germany

The policy paper on SMEs underlines that SMEs can help each other by combining their market power in a jointly-owned and managed structure such as a co-operative. “Commonly-owned structures like co-operatives might allow SMEs to maintain their independence and identity while at the same time delegating certain business functions (e.g. sourcing, marketing) to a larger entity that can negotiate better market conditions through the power of the collective,” reads the paper, which also calls on G20 governments to take into consideration the specificities of these structures and adapt regulations accordingly.

The Employment and Education paper also refers to co-operative models, asking G20 governments to promote entrepreneurship as a way to boost self-employment by reducing red tape related to business and promoting a diversity of business models, including co-ops and other social enterprises. “These allow people to mutualize risks, offering a good alternative for women, youth and other disadvantaged groups to access entrepreneurship,” reads the paper.

Commenting on the final recommendations, Monique Leroux, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, said: “The hard work of the Alliance’s policy team has paid-off. We have increased the profile of co-operatives in global policy-making groups. I’m proud to have joined them in representing co-operatives as a co-chair of the SME group, where I witnessed first hand the influence our model has.”

B20 chair, Jürgen Heraeus, hands over the B20 Policy Recommendations to German Chancellor Merkel at the B20 Summit in Berlin