Cape Town hosts co-operative movement


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Cape Town hosts co-operative movement

The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) held its Global Conference during the first week of November in Cape Town, South Africa. Attended by more than 1000 people from 88 different countries, the co-operative movement’s first General Assembly held on the African continent represented a remarkable milestone on the road towards the objectives established in the 2020 Vision, now that, in the words of Tepsy Ntseoane, President of South African Women in Co-operatives, “ICA Global Conference was an eye opener for Africa “.

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ICA President Pauline Green reported to delegates on the key events over the past four years. “When the International Co-operative Alliance board was elected in 2009 it set out a programme of radical change. A change into a valuable voice for the global movement,” said Dame Green, adding that the Alliance now “influences global institutions and media”.

The President of the ICA recalled the major step forward taken by the co-operative movement when the UN designated 2012 International Year of Co-operatives, asserting that the value of this initiative had been maximised, and the chance to perform internal changes taken.

Dame Green explained that there had been a move to decentralise towards the regions, and to improve the distribution of affiliation payments. “In 2007, the global office kept 83 per cent of subscription funds paid by members and distributed 17 per cent to regional offices,” the President explained. Referring subsequently to the sectoral organisations, she mentioned that “there was no funding to sectors, this had to change. By 2011 the business sectors, which are much valued, received ten per cent of the global subscription funding”. She also explained that there had been reductions in costs above all in terms of personnel, which had fallen from 80% of the budget to less than 50%, along with a diversification in sources of revenue.

Meanwhile, ICA Director Charles Gould told the Assembly that the foundations had been laid for The Co-operative Decade, mentioning the design of a new corporate image, and the establishment of the Blue Ribbon Commission to address the funding of co-operative growth and to study sustainability data. Regarding the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, Mr Gould asserted that this contains one key message: “co-operatives are a growing and sustainable form of business, which is a message of hope and promise that is very much needed and welcomed at this particular point in history”.

Mr Gould also reported the completion of the process of transferring the organisation’s headquarters from Geneva to Brussels, and announced that the ICA has now been registered in accordance with Belgian law as a not-for-profit association. The aim of the ICA is to share its offices with other co-operative organisations located in the Belgian capital.

During the Assembly the new Global Board which will steer the path of the co-operative movement over the next four years was elected. Alongside the re-election of Britain’s Pauline Green as President, mention should also be made of the election of the Espriu Foundation CEO José Carlos Guisado as a member of the board representing the sectoral organisations, and also of Eudes Aquino, President of Unimed do Brasil. For the first time in the history of the ICA, two representatives of the health sector will be sitting on the highest governing body of the institution.

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