Taking up the challenges of Brazilian growth thanks to intercooperation

The opening up of Brazil’s economy in the nineties had a significant impact on national industry, and strongly affected certain sectors, which experienced a range of consequences, from the loss of formal jobs to some companies closing down. The solution for the workers at the Nicola Rome Maquinaria y Equipos S/A company was to create a cooperative. COPROMEM started its activities in 1999, in Mococa, in the State of San Pablo. It currently has over 440 workers, of which 333 are members, and produces 1200 tonnes of steel a month.

29 April 2014

In order to survive on this highly competitive market and to satisfy the increasing the demand for their products, COPROMEM will now have a plant that is able to process 2,500 tonnes of steel a month. The plant was designed and built by INTEGRA. Both COPROMEM and INTEGRA are members of UNISOL, the Federation of Cooperatives and Solidarity Enterprises in Brazil. INTEGRA, which started up in San Pablo University in 1996, offers integrated solutions in engineering, architecture and urban planning. It is the first time both cooperatives are working together.

“The premises where the cooperative is currently located dates back to 1888. As time went by adjustments were made to this historical building. However, after one hundred years, the changes that were made no longer allowed for increased productive efficiency. The new space will make it possible to accelerate internal movement and the reorganisation of the production lines”, explained Adelcke Rosseto Neto, INTEGRA architect planner. Now COPROMEM will be able to organise a linear production system that is more economical and efficient. This means that it will be able to build specific lines, each in their own space.

Intercooperation mechanisms

This favourable atmosphere of intercooperation among UNISOL Brazil organisation is to a large extent attributable to the fact that it is organised in sectoral cooperatives. At present there are eleven such cooperative sectors, covering sectors such as tourism, the craft industry, clothing and textiles, social cooperatives, civil engineering, metalworking and recylcing. They can thus jointly identify potential clients and/or suppliers.

Other actions that strengthen intercooperation are the sectoral meetings among institutions in the same area of activity and the creation of networks and value chains bringing together several organisations in one same project. Another important aspect is the work of the advisors that operate in one specific area and serve as the link among enterprises. One can identify numerous cases of intercooperation of this kind in the UNISOL network, for instance when sectors such as the fruit growing, food and family farming sectors come together for shared marketing purposes. Furthermore, the strategic allies of the UNISOL Brasil system use the network of affiliated cooperatives. For instance, the Metalworkers’ Trade Union of ABC Paulista also contracted INTEGRA for the renovation and expansion of their main office.

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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