CICOPA is organizing the sectoral workshop “Cooperatives in industry, services and energy: how to address the SME dimension, now and tomorrow?” at the International Summit of Cooperatives (Quebec, 11-14 October)

CICOPA is co-organizing this meeting together with NRECA, an organization that represents around 1.000 cooperatives in the USA and Canada providing and/or distributing energy, and with 13 internationally-renowned speakers.

16 June 2016

CICOPA represents around 65 000 enterprises at world level in industry and services, the predominant sectors being manufacturing, construction, transports, education, professional-scientific-technical activities, accommodation and catering, health and social services , and trade. These few sectors cover over 70% of the number of enterprises represented. A handful of cooperatives are active in the production and/or distribution of energy (in particular in Italy and France). Energy cooperatives are particularly important on the American continent, and (apart from the USA and Canada) in particular in Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Argentina.

An overwhelming feature of cooperatives represented in those sectors is their being SMEs (EU definition: less than 250 staff and 50 million € turnover; US definition: less than 500 employees). 95% of the enterprises represented by CICOPA are SMEs. The 1000 NRECA cooperatives employ 70 000 staff, -70 per cooperative on the average, and are thus predominantly within the SME parameters as well.

Therefore, a key common need of cooperatives in industry, services and energy is to compensate their SME size through entrepreneurial cooperation among themselves, with cooperation instruments that can reinforce their competitiveness (on the private markets and in public procurement), cohesiveness, financial sustainability, business and technology strategies, R&D capabilities, clustering, economies of scale and scope etc. For this purpose, they have developed advisory services, training schemes, mutualized financial instruments, business networks and horizontal groups (the most well-known example being Mondragon, but over 700 other cooperative groups, large and small, have been identified among the enterprises represented by CICOPA). Their resilience to crises and their innovation capacity rest to a substantial extent on this cooperation experience at the meso-level.

This business cooperation experience, and the main modalities and instruments through which it is implemented among cooperative SMES, is one key focus of this encounter, both looking at the present situation and at the challenges and opportunities for the future.

It will be a three-hour long sectoral meeting, to discuss topics like the advisory services, training schemes, mutualized financial instruments, business networks, or horizontal groups.

They will look at the tools available for reinforcing their competitiveness, cohesiveness, financial sustainability, business and technology strategies, R&D capabilities, etc.

Experts and practitioners

Manuel Mariscal, President of CICOPA, will introduce the sectoral meeting. After that, the Secretary General of CICOPA, Bruno Roelants, will take the floor to briefly introduce the state-of-the-art of the cooperative industry-services-energy Sector.

Hazel Cocoran, Executive Director of the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation (CWCF) (Canada), will moderate the two successful roundtables that will include Ariel Guarco – President of Cooperar and Fedecoba (Argentina); Tim Huet, Founder and Legal Counsel of the Arizmendi Group in San Francisco (United States); Arantza Laskurain, Secretary General of Mondragon Corporation (Spain); Patrick Lenancker, President of CG Scop (France); Martin Lowery, Executive Vice President of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) (United States); José Orbaiceta, Treasurer of COOPERAR and co-founder of the Red Grafica (Argentina); Mathieu Richard, President of Enercoop (France); and Aldo Soldi, General Director of Coopfond (Italy).

A first roundtable will be about the present, and in the second one the speakers will share their vision of the challenges and opportunities for the future.

Other tables and participants

Industry, services and energy experts will also be present during other roundtables and forums. Javier Sotil, President of Mondragon (Spain), during the round table entitled “The Future of Work in a Constantly Evolving Digital World” will discuss about the companies’ capacities to change their organizations in tune with the needs of tomorrow’s work reality., and tomorrow’s requirements of new workers.

Dirk Vansintjan, president of (Belgium), will consider the opportunities offered by the frugal innovation approach and identify what cooperatives are already doing in this area, at the forum entitled “Frugal Innovation: An Inclusive and Sustainable Growth Strategy”. Those are just a few highlights from the program (discover the day-by day program or the program by theme and the 2016 speakers).

During the Summit, world-renowned speakers like Joseph E. Stiglitz, Mark R. Kramer and Robert Reich will discuss the Outlook for the Economy in a Context of Financial Crises and Social Inequalities. Other international experts, like Navi Radjou and Jeremy Rifkin will give their viewpoints on how to create value at lower cost through innovation.

A Peek at the Summit’s B2B Platform

The aim of the B2B Platform is to facilitate cross-industry networking and the emergence of partnerships among the 3,000 Summit participants.

This time, registered participants will be invited to create a profile and provide a description of their market development objectives. A search engine will allow participants to search the database of delegates, and an internal e-mail system will make it easy to send meeting requests and schedule them. Participants will be free to accept or ignore meeting. requests. B2B meetings will be held in the networking hall.

International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives

Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037
E-mail: cicopa[at]

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