On Monday, April 6, an advertorial appeared in the New York Times titled “Power to the People: Cooperatives Spread the Benefits.” The feature goes a long way in making the case (domestically and internationally) for the cooperative business model. Further, it shines a bright light on the future of cooperatives and the power of cooperatives to change lives.
The article opens with a quote from Paul Hazen (CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association ), his forecast is “we will see a growth in the number of cooperatives” as a result of a weakened global economy. Giving strength to Paul’s statement, the International Co-operative Alliance has proclaimed the theme of International Day of Co-operatives 2009 to be “Driving global recovery through co-operatives.” Not only do cooperatives have a role in promoting economic growth, but as ICA goes on to state, cooperatives have a role in promoting “ethical values-values which have been severely challenged during the economic crisis.”
That to me is the crux of it…by the very nature of our cooperative principles and values we are guided to do what is right. Meaning, we do what is best for our stakeholders, our employees, the environment, and our members. By the means in which we conduct our everyday business practices we are acting in a socially responsible manner…we are having a social impact. The concern we (cooperatives/credit unions) hold for our communities is intrinsic to our business philosophy and the tenets upon which we were founded.
These tenets/cooperative principles and values are part of the foundation of the Credit Union Development Educator Program. The CUDE Program teaches the critical importance of adherence to these principles and has been doing so for over 27 years. This also means that the DE Program is instructing credit union people to be socially responsible…to do work that has a social impact. But are we doing enough? Are cooperatives/credit unions implementing social responsibility practices to the fullest extent?
While a great deal of good work is being done we don’t know what the future will bring to the cooperative movement. How large or small it may be in five or ten years. But there is little doubt the cooperative business model has momentum. In his post Social Impact Matters, our own Steve Delfin (Executive Director of the National Credit Union Foundation) lays out succinctly that the cooperative business model is “gaining prominence as a viable alternative.” But cooperatives must come together and be a movement as a whole if cooperatives are to emerge and go head to head with any traditional business model.
And how do CUDE’s figure into this? As a colleague and friend put it recently: “CUDE’s have the ability to truly energize and nourish a collaboration among all coops like never seen before, one that could certainly introduce new benefits for all the members and users of coops.”
Here is a link to the advertorial Power to the People – Cooperatives Spread the Benefits