This Saturday July 1st, is the International Day of Cooperatives – the time to celebrate the Inclusive Economy that co-ops are building around the world! The International Day of Cooperatives, or Co-ops Day, is an opportunity to highlight the substantial impact co-ops are having every day in their communities and beyond.
Inclusion is the theme for this year’s Co-ops Day, along with a slogan of “Co-operatives ensure no one is left behind.” The theme and slogan fittingly represent the membership focus of cooperatives around the world. Inclusion and the Inclusive Economy that co-ops are building directly challenge the evolving disruptions of the Gig Economy and conventional businesses that dominate news headlines and consumer choices. The cooperative difference provides a competitive edge: co-ops not only offer innovative goods or services, but also include people in ownership. Co-ops are owned by and run for the benefit of their members, a distinction which grants every member a say in business decisions and a share in company profits. Co-op members are owners of those businesses – as membership grows so does the number of people included in the Inclusive Economy. Ownership matters today, because people are being left out and left behind. As globalization and technological innovation progress, conventional businesses pull more resources and wealth to a smaller and smaller group of people.
8 billionaires hold the same amount of wealth as half the world
Today, 8 billionaires hold the same amount of wealth as 3.6 billion people or half the world’s population (Oxfam 2017). This number has shrunken from 62 people just last year. Cooperatives are challenging the conventional businesses that have pushed this wealth gap. Co-ops are just as competitive in the free market place, but anchor their businesses with member-ownership in the hands of the people closest to operations instead of outside investors looking to build their singular wealth.
Inequality is a pressing global matter, impacting personal finances, education, business, and social lives. Co-ops are actively combating the growing wealth gap by offering membership to all people who are able to assume membership, giving every person the opportunity to own the business decisions that affect their lives – instead of handing over ownership to outside investors. Inclusion is one of our greatest tools for effective problem solving in today’s global economy, as it is a vehicle for us to work together and involve more people in directing the evolution of the ever-changing world we share.
Co-ops provide members – from farmers, to independent business owners, workers, and consumers – the ability to scale buying power, access goods and services, and create economic opportunity not available to them individually. Foundational cooperative principles such as Open Membership, Democratic Member Control, Member Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence, and more emphasize the uniquely inclusive and empowering nature of cooperative businesses. Co-ops work to dissolve social inequality and empower members worldwide by giving them ownership and voice in the businesses that shape their daily lives.
The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) and the United Nations created this holiday to increase cooperative awareness and “promote the movement’s successes and ideals of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace” (Read more here). Each year, the Co-ops Day theme is selected by the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Co-operatives (COPAC), a network of global organizations that supports cooperatives as leaders in sustainable development. The ICA invites cooperatives and co-op supporters to “reflect on the misery caused by rising inequality, to recommit to ensuring equality across their communities, and to celebrate the co-operative contribution to making the world a better place.” (Read more here).
On International Co-op Day, July 1st, 2017, consider how working together regardless of one’s age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status can be a catalyst for global change.
How to Get Involved:
- Tell us how you and your co-op are celebrating on social media! Whether you are a member, employee, or supporter of cooperatives, use the hashtags #CoopsDay #GoCoop #Buildingabetterworldnow to get involved in the cooperative conversation and spread awareness of the cooperative business model!
- Wear your favorite co-op swag, drink from your ‘I love my co-op’ mug, and display your cooperative merchandise all day long! SHOP HERE for the latest co-op gear!
- Find and shop at a co-op in your area. Many co-ops celebrate Co-ops Day by holding fairs, community service outings, cultural events, etc. Stop by your local co-op to join the celebration!
- Learn how co-ops are going beyond corporate social responsibility to give back to local communities on our Care Page, and check out other cooperative news on sites such as thenews.coop and ica.coop
Happy International Day of Cooperatives 2017!