International Day of Cooperatives
July 3, 2021
The International Cooperative Alliance defines a cooperative as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.”
This means that producers, workers, or consumers own stake in the company and maintain power over the business decisions. The board of directors is voted in by the Co-Op members, who then make decisions on behalf of the people to benefit the community of owners. The owners of a cooperative form over shared goals, NCBA CLUSA describes
“One of those goals is to create a better world by working together and by shifting the focus of the business to place people over profit to build a more inclusive economy.”
Pachamama is a producer cooperative owned by the coffee farmers (or coffee producers in this case). Over 240,000 farmer owners are represented by a coalition of 5 cooperatives from Peru (COCLA), Mexico (La Union Regional), Guatemala (Manos Campesinas), Ethiopia (OCFCU), and Nicaragua (PRODECOOP). Each of these cooperatives are made up of smaller farming cooperatives who pool resources together to help small scale farmers process and export coffee to countries like the United States, allows greater access to technology, and creates investment opportunities to improve conditions on farms and in their communities.
All cooperatives are guided by 7 Principles and even though there are many different types of cooperatives in many different industries, these principles are what bring them all together.
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Member Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
This year’s theme for International Day of Cooperatives is “Rebuild Better Together.” After an unprecedented year of economic uncertainty due to the covid-19 pandemic, the cooperative model has been applauded for its resiliency and ability to put people and communities before profits and corporate payouts, keeping businesses and families afloat.
In a year that highlighted the precarity of jobs, the need for increased pay, equality in workplaces and need for workers’ rights, one solution that may address it all is cooperatives. As Fortune magazine highlighted, “Workers in employee-owned firms tend to be more cooperative and interested in the firm’s performance, and display a greater willingness to work hard, which generally leads to reduced employee turnover, improved productivity, better pay, and increased job security” and
“promoting alternatives to shareholder-owned firms would spur more private sector creativity, enabling everyday entrepreneurs to rework today’s deeply unequal system and giving workers and consumers a greater stake and voice in their businesses.”
Mother Jones reported “In co-op situations it’s more about the community and the business surviving, rather than just making profits off people” which is why we can see a rise in New worker owned coops that are even taking on giants like Uber and Lyft to reimagine the working economy to work for the people. Join us as we strive to Rebuild Better Together and support your local cooperative today!