The International Year of Cooperatives was officially launched on January 12, 2012 by the United Nations to celebrate cooperatives around the world and raise awareness for an alternative business structure that requires an entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. Purists of the cooperative movement might be cringing at the suggestion that an entrepreneurial spirit is required but if you go to Merriam Webster for the definition of ‘entrepreneur’ you’ll see that the concept has possibilities.
Cooperatives are member owned; meaning that members have economic participation as well as democratic control. That lines up quite well with the concept of members organizing themselves into a cooperative to provide a product or service within their community. As a whole, members assume the risks of operating a financially viable enterprise that is autonomous and independent. Cooperatives are busy throughout Canada, offering services such as banking, internet, water, and power in addition to a variety of products. Cooperatives are typically founded by a group of enterpreneurial spirits; people who see a need and can envision a way for an organization to fulfill that need.
40% of Canadians are members of a cooperative. If you are part of that 40%, make sure you get in on the celebrations at your cooperative(s) throughout 2012. Celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of those who forged the way and those who continue to keep this alternative model alive and well around the world.