The cooperative business model, works for the benefit of its members and promotes sustainability with numerous other benefits to society. Rather than investors, cooperatives have members with voting rights. The Evagoras Lanitis Centre Lemesos, was recently the venue for a Europe wide conference of experienced leaders in the cooperative movement. They came together to explain the many advantages of this business model with illustrations from their own experiences and to pass on know-how from coop ventures. The first presenter Mr Dirk Vansintjan noted that cooperation between people was increasing and is something that can be expressed within the movement. Mr Vansintjan leads two projects, namely REScoop and Ecopower. He spoke about the REScoop cooperative and the application of coop principles within it. Operating in Belgium, it acts as a distributor of renewable energy to its immediate locality and is opposes privatisation in the sector preferring that renewable energy systems are owned and operated by local communities. They believe that the use of natural resources such as wind and sun should remain in the hands of citizens.
These points were emphasised by Agnes Mathis, Deputy Director of Cooperatives in Europe, who also spoke of the suffering endured by people following the global recession.
The cooperative movement addresses the needs of people in their communities with profits remaining in the system. As a result they have more control and security and are less vulnerable to the vagaries of the market. Such businesses have noted fewer disturbances stemming from the financial instability of recent years. Going forward the movement needs to encourage the young citizens to participate and develop the growth of the coop movement said Ms Mathis.
Loucas Mprechas President of Kapa Network Greece voiced his support of the cooperative movement and the notion that the sustainability of the model made it a possible prerequisite for local development.
Highlighting the significance of the cooperative movement in bringing members of society together in a common purpose, the President of the Bios Cooperative, which works in the Greek market, Mr Costas Nicolaou stated that selling local products in the successful hypermarket at competitive prices has been successful and has led to the development of a sustainability within the business. Profits go back into the business and they carried out independent testing of all products to ensure their safety. He said the business model was a safeguard against financial disturbances in his country and should encourage others to follow the same cooperative route.
Sources: www.goldnews.com.cy, www.rescoop.eu.
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