Coops' Competition to Perceived Failure of Traditional Business Models

Monday, 31 October 2011

Individuals and governments ought to turn their attention to the co-operative model of business in the wake of a global financial crisis and subsequent aftershocks which have seen the European Union fighting for survival and the United States unable to stage a convincing financial recovery, said Greg Wall, Chair of Social Business Australia and CEO of Capricorn Society Ltd.

A focus on short-term financial returns and share prices has found many share market-listed corporations put at risk not only the long-term financial health of their businesses but also the livelihoods of their employees.

The model of co-operative banks and credit unions has demonstrated its resilience in tough times. Of the top ten safest banks in 2011, only one is listed with the stock market with the remainder either government or member-owned, according to Global Finance magazine’s rankings.

Australians have embraced the co-operative model through their membership of automobile associations, credit unions, industry super funds, health insurance and retailers with an average of more than one co-operative or mutual membership per capita of the national population.

Mr Wall’s comments came today as the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined 150 of the world’s most influential co-operative business leaders - including Wall - at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York to launch the International Year of Co-operatives (IYC) 2012.

“We’re not just here to talk about the sustainability and social aspects of co-operatives, we’re also here to show that these co-operative businesses are globally competitive,” said Wall today.

“The member-owned model works on many levels, we have strong links to community which prompts loyalty and we are able to give back to our members by giving them access to cheaper services.”

According to a report released in New York by the global organisation representing co-operatives, the International Co-operative Alliance, the world’s largest 300 co-operatives account for $US 1.6 trillion which is equal to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the world’s ninth largest economy.

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Maggie Beer
Maggie Beer, 2010 Senior Australian of the Year and Supporter of IYC 2012
"My passion for using fresh seasonal and local produce is equalled by my passion for my local, cooperative store...Community focused, ethical and sustainable that's the cooperative difference."

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