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     Gung Ho Newsletter No.95-96
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International Day of Cooperatives


89th ICA International Co-operative Day
17th UN International Day of Cooperatives
2 July 2011)


"Youth, the future of cooperative enterprise"

This year's theme highlights how the cooperative model of enterprise can successfully empower youth.

It links to the celebration of the United Nations International Year of Youth, which encourages dialogue and understanding across generations and promotes the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and freedoms, and solidarity.




International Co-operative Alliance









89th ICA International Co-operative Day

17th UN International Day of Cooperatives
2 July 2011

"Youth, the future of co-operative enterprise"


The theme for the International Day of Co-operatives 2011 highlights how the co-operative model of enterprise can successfully empower youth. It links to the celebration of the United Nations International Year of Youth, which concludes in August 2011, just prior to the launch of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives 2012. The Year of Youth encourages dialogue and understanding across generations and promotes the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and freedoms, and solidarity.


The International Day of Co-operatives addresses the need for all co-operative stakeholders to promote the participation of young people in the co-operative movement. Too often young people are not aware of the co-operative model of enterprise; they do not learn about co-operatives in school, as co-operatives often do not figure in school curricula. Young people also may not realise that the products and services they use are provided by co-operatives.


Yet, co-operatives provide young people opportunities that address their practical and strategic needs. They offer them a model of enterprise to create their own businesses. They offer the opportunities to be employed with enterprises that address young people's concerns for more democratic, responsible and ethical business operations.


At a time when social media connect young people to an extent never seen before, co-operatives are seeing unprecedented opportunities. The co-operative is a model that embodies collaborative forms of action so appealing to this emerging generation.

Co-operatives provide opportunities to young people to gain professional employment experiences, to further their education and provide capacity building, encourage participation in decision-making in co-operatives or form their own co-operatives.

ICA's engagement with youth is long-standing. The ICA Board co-opted its first youth representative in 2003 to participate fully in the discussions of the Board, and in 2008 the ICA formalised the election by the ICA General Assembly of a youth representative as a board member.

Additionally, ICA has an active Youth Network, which aims to:

  • help young co-operators from different countries to connect and to share experiences and ideas;
  • provide an environment where young co-operators can learn more about the wider co-operative movement;
  • involve young people from outside the movement through education and support;
  • empower young co-operators to engage with the rest of the movement to both raise the profile of youth issues and to ensure the youth perspective is presented during wider discussions.

As part of its priorities for the International Year of Co-operatives 2012, ICA seeks to engage greater numbers of youth in the co-operative movement. ICA is organising an artistic competition open to young adults all over the world with the purpose of promoting the values and principles of co-operation among the youth: the Coop'Art competition. Participants will be able to submit their projects through a dedicated webpage from November 2011 to May 2012 and the award ceremony will be held in Manchester in November 2012. Any person between 16 and 35 years-old can participate. There are three different categories for the competition: music, video and photography. The aim is to promote the principles of co-operation in a way attractive to young people to raise their awareness about the co-operative movement worldwide.

On this International Day of Co-operatives, the ICA calls on co-operators throughout the world to engage young people in the co-operative movement and to invest in their future leadership.







UN Secretary-General's Message for 2011 International Year of Cooperatives

Ban Ki-moon


The theme for this year’s International Day of Cooperatives, “Youth, the Future of Cooperatives”, highlights the enormous value of engaging the energy and drive of young people.

In the wake of the global financial and economic crisis, youth unemployment is at an all-time high. Expanding opportunity through youth entrepreneurship is one way to address this challenge. The cooperative model enables young people to create and manage sustainable enterprises. Cooperatives are underpinned by the pooling of financial and human resources, technical knowledge and business skills. Furthermore, their member-driven structure roots them in communities, encouraging socially responsible businesses that meet local needs.

Through their distinctive focus on values, cooperatives have proven themselves a resilient and viable business model that can prosper even during difficult times. This success has helped prevent many families and communities from sliding into poverty. Cooperatives have also continuously provided reliable access to credit and other financial services for many small business holders. Moreover, cooperatives have done so while promoting self-reliance and creating stability in the markets in which they operate.

Throughout this year’s observance of the International Year of Youth, decision makers around the world have stressed the importance of including young people at all levels of the development process. The active inclusion of young women and men in social and economic development helps reduce social exclusion, improve productive capacity, break cycles of poverty, promote gender equality and raise environmental responsibility.

As we move into the International Year of Cooperatives, which will be officially launched this October, I invite young people to explore the benefits of pursuing cooperative enterprise and other forms of social entrepreneurship. At the same time, I encourage the cooperative movement to engage with youth, in a spirit of dialogue and mutual understanding. Let us recognize young women and men as valuable partners in strengthening the cooperative movement and in sustaining the role of cooperatives in social and economic development.



The logo of 2012 - International Year of Cooperatives


The United Nations has released the logo for the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives.

Description of the logo

The logo of the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 evokes the definition of co-operative enterprises as autonomous associations of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations, through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

Based on the slogan of the year, ‘Cooperative enterprises build a better world’, the logo features seven persons working together to lift and support a cube. The cube represents the various projects goals and aspirations upon which cooperative enterprises are built, and the achievements that can be attained. The gender neutral figures represent the people factor central to the co-operative model, and there are seven of them, to represent the seven principles of the cooperative movement, i.e. voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, autonomy and independence, education, training, and information, cooperation among cooperatives, and concern for community.

As illustrated by the logo, these seven principles work together to allow co-operative members to achieve the goals and desires that they would not have been able to attain through their individual efforts.






Isabel Crook


Soon after the setting up of the PRC, the Gung Ho movement and ICCIC were both closed down. Thirty years later. With Deng Xiaoping’s “Reform and Opening Up,” Rewi Alley, Chen Hansheng, Lu Guangmian and others asked permission to re-establish Gung Ho cooperatives. This was granted in 1983, and this was followed by a rapid growth in cooperatives. Some time later Rewi complained bitterly that in fact most of the newly sprung up coops were not coops. The problem was that with the Deng reforms, small private enterprises were encouraged. However many entrepreneurs feared that the policy might change and they would be branded as capitalists so they set up ventures which they called “cooperatives.” To tackle this problem, Rewi and his Chinese colleagues asked that the government allow ICCIC to be revived. This was granted in 1987, and as former supporters of Gung Ho cooperatives, David and I were on the list as members.


Some time in the 1990s I became a member of the executive and became personally involved in this effort to find an effective way of promoting coops up to the International standards.  

However forty years had passed and only two of our experienced old organizers remained.  One of them, Fu Bin. had a serious heart condition. Nevertheless she attended our meetings regularly even when (I am sure) the doctor would had insisted that she stay at home. The other was Que Bingguang who was doing a good job in Gansu. His method was to visit a coop and stay there for a week or so, talking to the members about the nature of cooperatives and how they were getting along.  He encouraged them to bring up any problem they had, but the problems they brought up were economic ones.  For example our soap coop was losing its buyers. Que took same samples to Lanzhou, to have them analyzed and discovered that there was one essential element missing.  He returned with the required supplies, and in due course the coop-brand soap became popular again. However when it came to discussing management, members were very hesitant to say anything. Que would tell them where he was staying and to drop in if they wished to. So things were moving along in Gansu.