Get involved: Youth Cooperative Entrepreneurship campaign

Article by Rebecca Harvey

28 October 2016

A campaign to encourage co-operative entrepreneurship among young people, through the creation of worker, social and producers’ co-ops, is launching this December.

The one-year Youth Cooperative Entrepreneurship campaign has been designed by the International Organisation of Industrial and Service Cooperatives (CICOPA).

The project, which CICOPA plans to launch at the end of the year, will promote the idea of co-operative entrepreneurship and employment among global youth, while creating an impact on governments and regional and international organisations.
Since 2008, youth unemployment in the world has increased to alarming levels. Young people have been expressing increasing dissatisfaction about mainstream economic governance but, at the same time, an increasing interest in co-operatives, in a quest for more democracy and transparency.
Youth unemployment lies at around 30% in Northern Africa (45% for young women), 20% in Europe and 17% in Western and Central Asia, says a report by CICOPA. In Northern America, youth unemployment is about twice as high as the adult unemployment rate; in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is three times as high as for adults.
“In 2013, CICOPA members acknowledged that it was crucial to work on policies towards the youth, by including it in the organisation’s 2013-2020 strategic plan,” says the organisation. “CICOPA’s activities on youth cooperative entrepreneurship will reinforce and echo activities which its members are already implementing at national level.”
The initiative will include a series of actions, which aim to let the world know how young people can fulfil their needs and contribute to a better society through co-operatives:
A website designed specifically for young people interested in creating a co-operative will provide visibility to the campaign and is aimed at attracting young people towards worker, social and producers’ co-operatives by providing both successful examples and information and practical information on how to establish them.
A publication on youth co-operative entrepreneurship will analyse the trends among young people in establishing worker, social and producers’ co-operatives around the world. Recommendations for policies at international, regional and national level will be included to enable and foster its establishment.
The Working Together for a Cooperative Future film (below), which was produced by CICOPA and highlights nine examples of co-operatives created by young people around the world, will be promoted and developed. The film was screened for the first time at the plenary of the International Cooperative Alliance Conference in Antalya, Turkey, in November 2015.
A final conference will analyse the possibilities offered by worker, social and producers’ co-operatives to young people in order to respond to their entrepreneurial and employment needs through values such as common ownership, democratic governance, self-realisation, empowerment and responsible attitude toward the community.
“Co-operative entrepreneurship has shown one very concrete way for young people to find a job with a higher level of stability and resilience than the average, and, at the same time, break the obstacles which young people face in taking a more active and autonomous place in society, and make them take ownership and feel more responsible for their own initiatives,” says CICOPA.
“Co-operators want to keep on raising awareness about how young people can meet their employment needs and aspirations while contributing to a better society through the creation of co-operatives.”
The whole campaign will cost around €70,000, says CICOPA, which has so far collected €8,000 from 12 organisations and individuals. CICOPA is now inviting co-operators to help make this campaign happen, either as a sponsor, donor or collaborator.