ICA is showcasing 25 Voices, featuring the stories of 25 members of the cooperative movement who are under the age of 25. These powerful stories, which come in the form of short videos, photographs and other digital media, offer real-life examples of how cooperatives make a difference.
To help drive this agenda, the World Cooperative Congress on 1-3 December will include youth events to inspire the next generation into a more sustainable way of working.
The world marks International Youth Day on 12 August, to highlight the challenges facing young people – and campaigners are highlighting the benefits of working together through cooperatives. The cooperative model – which brings the benefits of mutual support, economic ownership and autonomy at work – is uniquely placed to help young people negotiate their uncertain future of work. It can also help Generation Z work to realise its ideals for a more just and equitable world.
They include Guilherme Gimenez de Oliveira, 21, from Brazil, who is taking a degree in cooperative management and working at Sicredi, a finance cooperative with 4 million members which works to improve local incomes.
He said: “The cooperative business model showed me a different way to look at money and people. Before I felt that to achieve goals, people had to do things for themselves, and as individuals. But I learned that through the cooperative model we can achieve goals by doing things together.”
Another member of this group, Parinaz Asareh, 20, from Iran, belongs to the Raheroshd Cooperative, which works to improve the teaching system and school curriculum.
She said: “As long as there are people who have the same goal and share the same concerns for themselves and their community, forming a cooperative is the smartest way to achieve said goal.”
Smayah Uwajeneza, 22, from Rwanda added, “Cooperatives are the best way to forge equality, diversity and inclusion.”
And from the United Kingdom, Iwan Doherty, 23, feels strongly that, “Cooperatives are the building blocks that allow power to be equally distributed which creates a society that is fairer and more prosperous.”
Meanwhile, the ICA #CoopYouth Network, formed in 2003, has been working hard on a series of initiatives to help young people form their own cooperatives and find a voice in the cooperative movement.
The Youth Network is finalising four major projects as part of its Action Plan: the creation of the ICA Youth Committee, the Replication Project to create new youth cooperatives, a mapping project to help people find cooperatives and support bodies, and the publication of best practices and a toolkit.
The best practices and toolkit will be ready for the #WorldCoopCongress, a hybrid event which will be held online and in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, from 1-3 December. A workshop will be held before the Congress in Seoul to discuss the online, interactive document, designed to provide inspiration and advice for youth to form and develop cooperatives.
Also, the publication “Young people and cooperatives: a perfect match?” was released earlier this year, presenting research and analysis based upon the direct input of young people in 20 countries. Produced in the framework of the ICA-EU Partnership (#coops4dev), external support for the research was provided by the Co-operative College (UK), with conclusions and recommendations developed in collaboration with the ICA Youth Network.