The world of cooperatives provides a valuable perspective from which to develop a new economic development model based on inclusion, both in Italy and worldwide. The issue was discussed today, 30 May 2012, at the Foreign Ministry in Rome during the meeting to set up the committee for the International Year of Cooperation, as proclaimed by the United Nations for 2012.
A billion cooperatives worldwide
The world has a billion cooperatives, with three times the number of shareholders compared with corporations, and 100 million employees. In Italy 1.3 million people work for cooperatives, a rise of 8% in the last 4 years – a trend that runs counter to the rest of the economy, where unemployment is growing. For Giuliano Poletti, representing the Cooperative Alliance (Agci, Confcooperative, Legacoop), cooperatives are “highly adaptable to different cultural models and, most important, individuals with few economic resources can join”. This makes them a useful development instrument for the growth of emerging or developing countries, “as demonstrated by India and Latin America, where cooperatives are widespread”.
The cooperative model can also help the Italian economy, exhausted as it is by the crisis. “We have major companies who come from the cooperative world and are contributing to internationalisation processes”, pointed out the Foreign Ministry’s Director General for Country Promotion, Maurizio Melani. The Chairman of the Italian Banking Association (ABI) noted that “over the last 10 years cooperatives have improved the quality of Italian development, while their capital/labour model could be borrowed by other actors in the productive economy”.