Great success of the SCIS2016: 4 days of international exchange of Social Cooperatives

Social cooperatives are among the most vital actors of the economy in today’s world, showing the capacity to understand the challenges our societies face today. 30 Cooperative managers from Italy, Japan, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovenia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Turkey actively attended the Social Cooperatives International School held from 20 to 23 October in Naples (Italy).

Social Cooperatives International School, created and coordinated Federsolidarietà, the Italian Federation of social cooperatives, is a training experience aiming at the enhancement of the international dimension of social cooperatives. The 2016 edition was a unique opportunity for discussion and dialogue between social co-operators with a focus on local development, partnership between social cooperatives and conventional enterprises, financial instruments for the development of social cooperatives and about the role of social cooperatives in the challenge of migrations.

Animated by the worker cooperative Puntodock, a first workshop aimed at exchanging main opportunities and challenges for social cooperatives and a main challenge was raised for the future: financing and dependence from public administration together with the intergenerational issue as youth are underrepresented in the workforce and the transmission of skills and knowledge from older to younger generations seems difficult.

Cooperators visited the Catacombs of St Gennaro managed by the social cooperative La Paranza in the difficult neighbourhood of Rione Sanità (touched by the mafia violence) where it employs today nearly 20 people and it is a very good example of local development. The cooperative was established in 2009, when they registered 3,000 visitors. In 2015 they registered 68,000 visitors and this year they expect to reach 80,000.

The Spanish work integration social cooperative, presented its experience with the participants. It offers visits, tours and wine tasting sessions in rural Catalonia. Many of its members are disadvantaged people who participate actively in the entire process of production of a large variety of wines and oils. The Viseras cooperative in Italy illustrated how social cooperatives develop local communities. The cooperative manages the Mamoiada Museum, which offers tourism itineraries combining visits to museums and the discovery of local heritage with the opportunity to meet with the local population and to attend local product tasting sessions.

The Seminar “The challenge of migration: policies, inclusion and international development cooperation” explored the different aspects of migration and the role of the cooperative movement in migration policies, integration and international development cooperation. Representatives from the Italian Government, UNHCR, International Labour Organisation and the International Cooperative Alliance Africa shared their views with the audience. The President of the regional organisation of CICOPA for Europe, CECOP, Giuseppe Guerini took par at this seminar.

Four people among the participants presented and discuss their innovative project with Santo Versace, President Founder of Fondazione Altagamma. A round table presented some examples and strategies for the development of effective partnerships between social cooperatives and conventional enterprises.

The last session analysed the financial needs of social cooperatives, presenting different levers that can be activated and their connection with the different steps in the development process of the cooperative: start up, consolidation, innovation, etc. The French Confederation of Worker Cooperatives, CG Scop, member of CECOP exchanged on the topic with the 30 managers of social cooperatives.