4 Major Themes Centered on Development
In light of an analysis of the main challenges that cooperatives and mutuals face, 4 main themes have been developed to provide managers with strategies and solutions:
- The role of cooperatives and mutuals in the global economy
- The performance of the cooperative and mutualist business model
- The evolution of the cooperative and mutualist business model
- The global socio-political influence of cooperatives and mutuals
The role of cooperatives and mutuals in the global economy
Despite their performance and ability to weather economic and financial crises better than other businesses, cooperatives and mutuals are still not well understood. Teaching institutions do not give this business model much attention in their programs, and current economic measures do not take it into account. It is crucial to demonstrate the reach and influence of cooperatives and mutuals with economic data and perception surveys in order to establish some preliminary facts about them. Where exactly do cooperatives and mutuals stand? What role do they play on the global economic stage today? What should their role be?
The Summit will include a round table on:
- 1- The cooperative model, the socio-economic impact of an unknown business model
- 2- Preliminary results of Imagine 2012, the official pre-Summit event addressing cooperative economics
- 3- The perception of members and the public with regard to cooperatives and mutuals – a global perspective
The performance of the cooperative and mutualist business model
To remain viable, cooperative and mutual businesses must achieve and maintain the delicate balance between meeting their members’ needs and staying competitive. They must therefore continue to evolve, perform well financially and differentiate themselves from stock companies. How are they doing? How can they maintain their productivity while staying true to their cooperative values of equity, equality and solidarity? What growth levers are available to cooperatives and mutuals?
Cooperatives and mutuals represent a distinct and successful business model as well as an alternative to the prevailing business model. They have demonstrated their financial stability and resilience in the face of current global crises by striking a delicate balance between meeting the needs of their members and the nature of their governance, all the while remaining competitive. How have they managed to stand out from the dominant business model? What are the growth levers at the disposal of cooperatives and mutuals given the need for sustainability?
The Summit will include a round table on:
- 1- Growth strategies of cooperatives and mutuals
- 2- Cooperatives and mutuals as an alternative to the prevailing economic model – a viable solution to global crises
- 3- Cooperatives and mutuals: productivity, financing and capitalization – different from the prevailing model?
The evolution of the cooperative and mutualist business model
The member-owners of cooperatives and mutuals are solicited from all sides. They comparison shop and buy or use the competition's products and services. They no longer take part, or participate only minimally, in their association's activities, which are the very foundation of this business model. Yet, the appreciation, attention and proximity that characterize this business model still appeal to them.
So how do cooperatives and mutuals reconcile their members’ progressive lack of involvement with the business model's need for member participation, and at the same time fulfill member needs and provide them with dynamic association activities? What levers are available to cooperatives and mutuals? How can they remain agile and innovative, and become leaders in constantly changing markets?
Simultaneous workshops will be held during the Summit on the following topics:
- 1- Participative management and governance
- 2- Meeting the needs of members, communities and markets
- 3- Culture of performance and innovation
- 4- Attracting, training and retaining talent through cooperative values
- 5- Intercooperation and organization within a network
- 6- Societal and environmental responsibility in the community or shared values
- 7- Internationalization of cooperatives
- 8- North-South intercooperation
The global socio-political influence of cooperatives and mutuals
The socio-political influence of cooperatives and mutuals is recognized, but not well understood. They contribute to the development of communities, but the consumer doesn't place any importance on it. Getting people to recognize the unique features of cooperatives and mutuals is absolutely vital and a competitive advantage that is not being maximized. People are still unsure about what makes cooperatives and mutuals truly different from other businesses. The role that the cooperative movement plays in higher spheres of influence and political decision-making is also limited.
Yet, the recent economic crisis showed how resilient the cooperative and mutualist business model is and clearly demonstrated that it can be part of the long-lasting solutions to global crises. But how can cooperatives and mutuals increase public awareness and exert their fair share of influence on socio-political decision-making? How can the nature of their participatory governance influence other types of businesses and be a model of shared leadership?
Two round tables will be held on this topic during the Summit. The first, “A new role to play – Vision 2030,” will address the future of cooperatives and mutuals and the increasingly predominant role they will have to play in the next 20 years. The second will be a thematic ministerial round table: “A role to play – Global socio-political influence.” It will bring together representatives from various countries and governments around the world and will shed light on just how the political arena sees and understands cooperatives and mutuals.