How to support cooperatives in times of crisis? We exchanged on strategies of cooperation with our members

10 May 2021

On the 27th of April 2021, CICOPA hosted a roundtable for its members titled “Cooperation among cooperatives in times of crisis”.

The event served as an occasion for members to gather and share their experiences on how they have been responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what challenges they have faced, and what strategies they have put in place.

Starting off from the 6th coop principle, “Cooperation among cooperatives”, CICOPA provided the space for members to exchange experiences and share solutions, in a true cooperative fashion.

The online event had the presence of 46 participants from 18 countries, and the presentations included experiences from:

  • CNC Mexico and the Mexican cooperative movement
  • SEWA India and the women cooperative movement
  • The UK worker cooperative solidarity fund (SolidFund)
  • The Italian Mutualistic Legacoop Fond (Coopfond)

During the meeting, various strategies of cooperation (that have been set up by national federations) were identified. These help cooperatives overcome crisis and build stronger cooperative movements for worker and social cooperatives.

One key element was the importance to foster entrepreneurial cooperation among cooperatives at the national and international level. This can be achieved creating more business exchange opportunities for cooperatives, as well as more horizontal opportunities of cooperation, through joint learning and education activities to develop skills and capacities, as well as improving communication channels internally, to quickly learn about how to deal with the challenges of the pandemic based on existing examples, and externally, to raise awareness at the public and political level.

Another important aspect discussed was the role of cooperative funds to support the development of cooperatives. A typical problem these funds try to overcome, is the lack of starting capital for new cooperatives. However, in times of crisis, the attention shifts from long term achievements to emergency interventions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many cooperatives suffered cash shortage, and called for available financial loans. In the current and coming years, some effects (not yet visible) are expected.

Collaborating with financial intermediaries, aligning interventions with public measures, and to the specific needs of cooperatives in the different sectors, were some of the ideas raised during the meeting.

Overall, it emerged that organizing and collectivizing, is key to foster cooperation among cooperatives and can help to increase the individual impact of cooperatives.

This event itself was aimed for member to work together and strengthen the cooperative impact at the global level!

Are you a CICOPA member and would like to read the report? You may access it in the “Member’s area” of our website.

This event was organized in the framework of the ICA initiative “Towards the World Cooperative Congress” in preparation of the 33rd ICA World Cooperative Congress that will be held in Seoul, Korea on December 1-3, 2021.