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Winter 2020

 

Perspectives

Resilience and Stability in Crisis

 

In times of uncertainty and crisis, people look to the kind of stability that cooperative businesses have a proven history of offering. Investing time, energy and finances into cooperative businesses ensures that in times of need, these principled, people-centered establishments can continue being that stabilizing force.

This issue of the Cooperative Business Journal comes to you at a time when the world is facing a global health crisis. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a profound impact on businesses, economies and societies around the world. Amid the public health and economic challenges, cooperatives are finding ways to support and serve their members, staff and the broader community.

Cooperatives continue to provide access to critical goods and services. From food and agricultural co-ops providing essential food, to credit unions modifying their services and products to meet the needs of their members, to rural electric cooperatives ensuring that families can access critical infrastructure, cooperatives are focusing on the health and well-being of the communities they serve. We also see cooperation among cooperatives. For example, to address a shortage in medical supplies, the worker-owned cooperative Opportunity Threads retooled its production line to sew masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for the caregivers at Cooperative Home Care Associates.

This issue of the Journal focuses on the compounding benefit derived from investing in cooperatives. Our first article asks us to consider, “What if a fraction of the capital and expertise spent on the next big startup was instead directed at preserving small businesses through worker co-op conversions?” From the Credit Union National Association, we are reminded of why cooperatively-owned financial institutions are a worthy investment – during times of crisis, they are a proven stabilizing influence. And we learn how investment in co-ops has transformed life for Canada’s northernmost communities.

We also include an article about how the cooperative principles can be embraced by other types of businesses. “Shift Change” explores how investors – even in private equity – could play a meaningful role in preserving the millions of jobs at stake with the current wave of retiring business owners.

These articles remind us of the impact that cooperatives can have in a time of crisis, such as COVID-19. In turbulent times, the values and services offered by cooperatives have the inherent capacity to withstand the test of social and economic flux. History has shown that cooperatives shine brightest in times of need. Around the world, co-ops keep communities resilient, lift up individuals and families, and support social and financial well-being.

Doug O’Brien,
President & CEO of NCBA CLUSA

In Cooperation,

Doug O’Brien

President & CEO of NCBA CLUSA

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