It seems cooperatives are weathering the difficult economic times quite well. The ABC’s 7.30 Report presented an interesting/uplifting segment on this topic a few weeks ago.
“The world wide co-operative movement say that their banks and other businesses are flourishing in the face of the global financial crisis. The co-operative movement whose funding principles put people before profit claim they are a sustainable force in the community.
SCOTT BEVAN, PRESENTER: Well, the saying has it – that it’s an ill wind that blows no good.
Despite the global recession, some Australian businesses are actually looking forward to a surge in activity because of the crisis.
It’s the co-operative movement, whose founding principles put people a head of profit and those involved say their banks and business enterprises are already weathering the economic storm better than most.
Matt Peacock reports.
MATT PEACOCK, REPORTER: Hard economic times and tough competition from multinational chains haven’t killed off this traditional dairy farmers’ co-op.
Quite the contrary, Hastings Dairy, which was launched as a milk co-operative nearly a century ago in the northern New South Wales town of Wauhope, has tripled production in the past five years. It now specialises in quality cheeses and yoghurts and the local community is the winner.
RAINER SCHULTER, CO-OPERATIVES EUROPE: We are a very substantial economic force within this community and every year we put back our profits, go back to the community.
MATT PEACOCK: This is no tiny rural collective. Hastings co-operative is big business.
PHILLIP BRYANT, CEO, HASTINGS CO-OPERATIVE: We operate two supermarkets, super IGA supermarkets. We’ve got two retail service stations, a bulk fuel distribution business plus also we have with our factory where our organisation started, we have the Hastings Valley Dairy which converts 19 million litres of local farmers milk into cheeses and yoghurts.
MATT PEACOCK: Forty kilometres North in Kempsey you’ll find Hastings’ cheese on another co-op’s shelves. Here too, the Macleay co-op is a force to be reckoned with in the local economy.
RICHARD O’LEARY, MACLEAY CO-OPERATIVE: We’re at the table when the real decisions are being made in town. We’re partners with council, we’re partners with other business.
MATT PEACOCK: Where it can, the co-op buys local produce, meats, fruits and bread. And although it runs at a profit, its CEO Richard O’Leary is proud of its other social objectives.
RICHARD O’LEARY: Clearly, you’ve got to have enterprise to pay for things but at the same time you’ve actually got to have a social conscience to get things done, particularly when there are disadvantaged people in our community. We have a very big Indigenous population and of course we have an employment program relating to Indigenous people.
MATT PEACOCK: Elisha Donohue has a co-op scholarship, working here as she’s also supported in her studies to become a teacher.
ELISHA DONOHUE, SUPERMARKET ATTENDANT: It’s different from the other supermarkets; it’s more friendly because it’s all locals and stuff. Like over at Woolworths, there’s no Aboriginal people employed there. I haven’t seen any…
For the full report go to http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2008/s2458327.htm.
I wonder why we hear so little about successful cooperative enterprises here?