Bringing cooperative entrepreneurship to young generations: a challenge for the future

2014-12-03 09

Democratic control and particpation, shared ownership, long-term development perspectives are only few of the principles that youth and cooperatives share. To go deeper into this question and debate about how cooperative enterprises can support young people, Cooperatives Europe and the European Youth Forum organised the event ‘Money grows on trees’ on December 3rd in Brussels.

Discussions were moderated by Lloyd Russel-Moyle, Vice-President of the European Youth Forum. Enthusiastic about how cooperatives can help young people make their business idea a reality, he underlined the positive collaboration between cooperative and youth organisations.

Participating at the event, MEP Anneliese Dodds (S&D) said: “The cooperative model can empower young people as employees and as consumers. I would like to see a more explicit recognition of cooperatives in the European Union. We need to make sure that competition rules within the EU do not discriminate against cooperatives”. She also insisted on the need for people “to have the information about the cooperative model available to them” and called upon a better integration of cooperatives into European programmes.

MEP Claude Turmes (Greens/EFA), took part in the debate as well; he said: “Unprecedented demographic pressure, new technologies crashing the established system are only two of the factors pushing us to find new solutions urgently. These are challenges, but also opportunities to re-design our society. And in particular for young people, who can invest their resources in something that makes sense to them, in something that they own and control. And this is an opportunity for cooperatives as well, which can contribute to the democratisation of our society.”

Two young cooperative entrepreneurs presented their experience. Sébastien Chaillou outlined the activities of Solidarité Etudiante, the first student cooperative created in France, which provides services to students in universities and campus. Paolo Campagnano presented Impact Hub Rovereto, a cooperative managing coworking space in Rovereto and in Trento (Italy) and providing business support services to its customers.

Klaus Niederländer, Director of Cooperatives Europe, said: “We are proud of this initiative: we are convinced that having young people and cooperatives coming closer together will be beneficial for the whole European economy. We welcome the attention that members of the EU Parliament are providing to this issue and we are committed to continue this work. We now expect that European Institutions will support our work to let our business model be known to young people, and give us the tools to support youth cooperative entrepreneurship”.

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