The Good Society: The Power of Co-operation

We will be publishing a case story shortly on youth entrepreneurship and micro-credit. In that case, it talks about a lack in the school system about encouraging entreprenurial choices for young people. Equally, I wonder why business schools across Canada do not talk about co-operatives as a viable business model. A few facts.

There are 8,500 Canadian co-operatives and credit unions, with more than 17 million members. About 150,000 people are employed in the Canadian co-operative sector, and they control an estimated $330 billion in assets.

More startingly, internationally co-operatives provide more than 100 million jobs around the world, 20 per cent more than multi-national corporations. The world's 300 largest co-operatives--nine of which are Canadian--have aggregate sales of $1.1 trillion. That's the size of the 10th largest economy in the world, about the size of Spain and just behind Canada.

Co-operatives are different from other enterprises in a variety of ways: ownership, values, purpose, service and longevity. They are guided by seven internationally-recognized principles: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; co-operation among co-operatives and concern for community.

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