Cooperatives are «Social Entrepreneurship»

For a long time cooperatives were ridiculed – now they are experiencing a boom. For a coopertive the idea of promotino and economic self-help are a priority. A cooperative is also supported by “internal” corporate values such as direct democracy and clearly defined co-determination rights.

Rahel Pfister, Managing Director of CooperativeSuisse, explains: “With over 8000 cooperative companies, Switzerland has a diverse tradition of socially responsible management. CooperativeSuisse, a Swiss association based in Zurich, promotes, networks and creates publicity for cooperatives and social entrepreneurship. “Many of these cooperative companies focus on a positive effect for members and the environment and thus make an important contribution to the well-being of the population,” explains Pfister.

“Today, their basic ideas are being revived under other headings, such as “social entrepreneurship”. Social entrepreneurs have an idealistic closeness and a high affinity for the basic cooperative values. They want to generate social innovation, which is also a cooperative concern. Because social innovation arises out of society and aims to find solutions for social/ecological/economic problems with clever entrepreneurial models,” explains Pfister. This is also the concern of many cooperative companies that strive for the well-being of their members and their environment with the principle of economic and social self-help.

CooperativeSuisse is convinced that both cooperative and social enterprises offer enormous potential for the Swiss economy and prosperity. “Today’s complex and rapid developments call for flexible forms of organisation that can make use of the collective intelligence of many creative minds. Cooperative and social enterprises have a great strength. And society seems to be open to its values and its image of man,” explains Pfister.

“Instead of maximizing profits, both rely on positive effects and use the power of participatory cooperation of many like-minded people,” Pfister knows. “In doing so, they draw on the high intrinsic motivation of those involved, as well as on a strong value base of meaningfulness, community, solidarity, cooperation, participation and democratic structures.
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Author: Roger Huber

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