Flamenco, paella and cooperatives

  

The Spanish have been hit hard by the economic crisis. Our newspapers and news networks remind us of the unemployment numbers and austerity measures on a daily basis. A dismal housing market, a huge budget deficit; the situation seems hopeless. But it’s not the whole story. People in Spain are working together to build a social economy, and cooperatives have been remarkably resilient in the everlasting crisis. 
 

Cooperatives—businesses owned and controlled by their workers or the members they serve—have a rich tradition in Spain. They thrived in the times of the communes during the Spanish Revolution, the workers’ social revolution that started in 1936, bringing to life the egalitarian and social ideals of the revolutionaries. In cooperatives, the pursuit of profit is balanced by the needs and interests of members and communities. Moreover, everyone gets a say.
 

According to the Spanish Ministry of Labor, the country has 21,603 cooperatives. Many are co-owned businesses, education cooperatives or service-oriented initiatives like houses for the elderly. One of them is the famous Mondragon cooperative in Basque country, which in 50 years has grown from a modest domestic heating firm to the sixth largest business in Spain. The cooperative employs 85,000 people in 120 ventures, each of which is managed semi-autonomously. One way it has kept employment rates high is by exchanging employees between ventures. Another example is an olive farm producing olive oil in Jaen, made up of 8,000 farming households
 

The Spanish National Statistics Institute reveals that cooperative employment is more stable than in other business: While the annual rate of dissolved corporations has risen to 6.7 percent, that number is only 2.5 percent for cooperatives. Spanish Labor Minister Fátima Báñez champions the cooperative model as sustainable, pointing out that co-ops have been better able to retain employers during these difficult times.

The Labor Ministry reports that hundreds of new cooperatives were started in 2012. Although overall numbers have shrunk slightly over the last few years, Spanish people are turning to the crisis-resistant cooperatives in increasing numbers. That’s because cooperatives tend to take less risk and are more flexible than “normal” businesses—and offer innovative solutions. More and more, when public services are lacking, people don’t wait for the government to step in. Instead they take things into their own hands. Cooperative housing projects for the elderly are a prime example. 
 

But the most important reason for turning to cooperatives, as the newspaper El Pais also notes, could very well be ideological: People starting a cooperative want to be part of something that serves people and not capital. They want to get away from the model that initiated the crisis. 
 

Read more stories by The Intelligent Optimist on cooperatives:
 

http://odewire.com/285161/working-on-the-future.html (2012)

 

http://odewire.com/110991/business-as-social-experiment.html (2010)

 

http://odewire.com/6897/fixing-the-free-market.html (2010)

 

Image: BALLESTER, Arturo. Campesino: Trabaja para el pueblo que te ha liberado. 1936 y 1939

Catalog Spanish Ministry of Culture, Education & Sports

Solution News Source

Flamenco, paella and cooperatives

  

The Spanish have been hit hard by the economic crisis. Our newspapers and news networks remind us of the unemployment numbers and austerity measures on a daily basis. A dismal housing market, a huge budget deficit; the situation seems hopeless. But it’s not the whole story. People in Spain are working together to build a social economy, and cooperatives have been remarkably resilient in the everlasting crisis. 
 

Cooperatives—businesses owned and controlled by their workers or the members they serve—have a rich tradition in Spain. They thrived in the times of the communes during the Spanish Revolution, the workers’ social revolution that started in 1936, bringing to life the egalitarian and social ideals of the revolutionaries. In cooperatives, the pursuit of profit is balanced by the needs and interests of members and communities. Moreover, everyone gets a say.
 

According to the Spanish Ministry of Labor, the country has 21,603 cooperatives. Many are co-owned businesses, education cooperatives or service-oriented initiatives like houses for the elderly. One of them is the famous Mondragon cooperative in Basque country, which in 50 years has grown from a modest domestic heating firm to the sixth largest business in Spain. The cooperative employs 85,000 people in 120 ventures, each of which is managed semi-autonomously. One way it has kept employment rates high is by exchanging employees between ventures. Another example is an olive farm producing olive oil in Jaen, made up of 8,000 farming households
 

The Spanish National Statistics Institute reveals that cooperative employment is more stable than in other business: While the annual rate of dissolved corporations has risen to 6.7 percent, that number is only 2.5 percent for cooperatives. Spanish Labor Minister Fátima Báñez champions the cooperative model as sustainable, pointing out that co-ops have been better able to retain employers during these difficult times.

The Labor Ministry reports that hundreds of new cooperatives were started in 2012. Although overall numbers have shrunk slightly over the last few years, Spanish people are turning to the crisis-resistant cooperatives in increasing numbers. That’s because cooperatives tend to take less risk and are more flexible than “normal” businesses—and offer innovative solutions. More and more, when public services are lacking, people don’t wait for the government to step in. Instead they take things into their own hands. Cooperative housing projects for the elderly are a prime example. 
 

But the most important reason for turning to cooperatives, as the newspaper El Pais also notes, could very well be ideological: People starting a cooperative want to be part of something that serves people and not capital. They want to get away from the model that initiated the crisis. 
 

Read more stories by The Intelligent Optimist on cooperatives:
 

http://odewire.com/285161/working-on-the-future.html (2012)

 

http://odewire.com/110991/business-as-social-experiment.html (2010)

 

http://odewire.com/6897/fixing-the-free-market.html (2010)

 

Image: BALLESTER, Arturo. Campesino: Trabaja para el pueblo que te ha liberado. 1936 y 1939

Catalog Spanish Ministry of Culture, Education & Sports

Solution News Source

SIGN UP

TO GET A Free DAILY DOSE OF OPTIMISM


We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. Privacy Policy