What are Co-ops and how they promote Social Development and Sustainability? Their role within SocialPolis Coin Project.
The appearance of the modern co-operative movement goes more than one hundred and fifty years ago, while its origins can be traced even further back in history. Nevertheless, in recent years, the co-op business model has been receiving renewed attention, with the most recent paradigm to be the United Nation’s designation of 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives. The mission(s) of a co-operative can be various: to fulfill a need, obtain a product or service, produce a product or service, or secure employment while a combination of these activities is also possible. Globally, co-ops operate in all sectors of the economy while they include almost 1 billion members and employ 100 million women and men. This text will elaborate on the co-operatives’ concept, values and principles, and the way they promote Social Development and Sustainability Economy. In this context, their role within SocialPolis Coin Project will be further analyzed.
A co-operative is an autonomous association of people united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Deconstructing the above definition, we should highlight that a co-op is owned and governed by its members, the people who use its products or services, or are employed by the business. Its purpose is not to accumulate profit in favor of investors, but to meet the goals and aspirations of its members. Thus, any generated surplus is re-invested in the business or returned to the members based on their use of its services. You can be a member in a co-op by purchasing a member share in the business that does not change in value (in contrast to publicly traded corporations) and entitles the member to one vote in matters that come before the members.
The core values of co-operatives are self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. Co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and well-being of others.
The below principles are shared amongst co-operatives worldwidely
· Voluntary & Open Membership. Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to anyone willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without discrimination.
· Democratic Member Control. Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who participate actively in the setting of their policies and strategies. Individuals serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. Normally, co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).
· Member Economic Participation. The contribution and the control of their capital is equitably contributed and exercised accordingly. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on the capital subscribed as a condition of membership.
· Autonomy & Independence. Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. In case, co-ops enter an agreement with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so ensuring democratic control by their members.
· Education, Training & Information. Co-operatives provide education and training to their members to help them support more efficiently the development of the co-ops.
· Co-operation among Co-operatives. Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
· Concern for Community. Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
Co-operatives and Sustainable Development
In September 2015, UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which comprises seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This agenda targets to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.
Co-ops for 2030 is a campaign for co-operatives to learn more about the SDGs, to contribute to achieving the SDGs and to report their progress.
In the Agenda, there is a powerful proactive generic recognition that co-operative enterprises play an important role within the private sector to achieve the SDGs, creating a great opportunity for them to partner with global, national, regional, and local institutions in order to achieve sustainable development.
Co-operatives nurture a long-term vision for sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental responsibility through self-help and empowerment reinvesting in the society and catering for the well-being of the people.
Co-operatives are now in the second phase of implementing the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade. The Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade is the Alliance’s global strategy of and for co-operatives. To achieve the 2020 Vision of the Blueprint, the Alliance pursues Blueprint programs in five priority areas: Participation, Sustainability, Identity, Legal Frameworks and Capital.
The International Co-operative Alliance, as the global voice of the movement, is committed to educating co-operatives about the SDGs, helping at the same time, co-operative enterprises respond to the UN’s call for action.
Co-ops’ role within SocialPolis Coin Project
SocialPolis Coin Project (SPL Coin Project) targets to maximize people’s participation and their benefiting from the uprising solidarity-based economic Sector. On the other hand, co-ops, as well as NGOs offering Solidarity services, are particularly interested in the introduction and acceptance of Blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency concept in order to support their financing and capital development, and as their primary alternative way for executing transactions within the sector.
Focusing on Greek sector, a new Act (4430/2016) is aiming to boost the so-called “third pillar of economy,” that is, the social economy based on co-ops. Such co-ops are obliged to return to the society 40–60% of their profits in order to maintain the tax benefits offered to this sector. Though, SocialPolis Coin Project, 60% of the profits will be used to purchase SPL Coins though their Credit Unions. Such coins will be distributed within this sector either for B2B transactions or to offering free services or goods to communities.
In parallel, as major non-social economy Enterprises offer similar returns to societies through their Social Responsibility Programs, the use of SPL Coin for such a solidarity is expected to maintain its demand in high levels. Nevertheless, the use of SPL Coins for B2B purposes will not be allowed unless the other trading part is a co-op.
The procedure of buying/selling such SPL Coins will be performed through Exchange Centers and through Credit Unions of Social Economy coops.
Benefits offered to all key players in this application are:
1. B2B transactions within the Social Sector
2. Maximum transparency of the services or goods offered to local communities
3. Lower costs and faster transactions
4. Strong interest of coops in introducing their Credit Unions to exchanging their SPL Coins with FIAT currencies for any loans or any need of credit
5. The State will not have the ability to take part on the above as tax will be collected through Exchange Centers (as a percentage of the value added-price lift) when turning SPL Coins to a FIAT currency