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Around 150 political and cooperative leaders in the Americas attended the “Cooperatives in the Americas: Driving Economic Growth with Equity and Inclusion” summit held on 20 March at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington. CICOPA Americas was represented at the summit by Rebecca Kemble, President of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives..
The summit featured three panels with speakers from North America and all across Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as from all of the cooperative sectors. It was organized to inform and educate policy makers at OAS about cooperatives and to show how they form the basis of sustainable and economic development.
Representing the worker cooperative sector in the Americas, Kemble gave a presentation, which had been drafted in collaboration with CICOPA Americas members, about cooperation between cooperatives and “coop-to-coop” trade. The presentation described how, through networks of associations and trade relationships, worker cooperative groups are not only creating business opportunities, but are also, by their adherence to democratic, cooperative principles, creating a new generation of cooperators. In other words, people who see themselves as active agents of change in their communities..
“In the United States, worker cooperatives are the driving force behind local and regional inter-sectoral cooperative alliances. In Seattle, Philadelphia, Austin, Western Massachusetts, Boston and Wisconsin, these cooperative alliances are forming to pull together cooperatives from all sectors to build real economic power, and leverage that power in government and other policy making bodies”, said Kemble.
Worker cooperatives in South America have built trade networks linking cooperative businesses in supply chain and horizontal relationships with other cooperative businesses in order to develop local, regional and national cooperative economies. Cooperative networks in the wheat, textile, recycled plastic, media and graphic arts industries were given as examples.
This cooperative summit was organized by ICA-Americas, the OAS, the National Cooperative Business Association, the National Cooperative Bank and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
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