Address: European Cooperative House
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Email: cecop@cecop.coop

Worker and social cooperatives, a solution to youth entrepreneurship?

14 May 2014 [ English ] français ]

With the aim of gathering ‘Ideas for a better Europe’, more than 5,000 young people took part at the European Youth Event (EYE) organized by the European Parliament and the European Youth Forum from 9 – 11 May at Strasbourg (France). Worker and social cooperatives participated actively in this 3-day meeting promoting this business model among the youth and asking European actors to take into account cooperatives as a solution to youth entrepreneurship.

Louis Cousin, from the French multi-stakeholder cooperative (scic in French) Solidarité Etudiante, Jordi Hubert from the French worker cooperative Ekidina and Pablo Ascasíbar from the Spanish worker cooperative Agresta S. Coop. shared their experiences in the creation and management of cooperatives at different sessions. An open space was installed in front of the European Parliament building mixing political debates and workshops with live music, artistic performances and informative stands. CECOP, as partner of the European Youth Forum hosted a stand where those cooperators and a delegation of the CECOP team made young participants aware of the cooperative business model and, more concretely, of worker and social cooperatives.

Pablo Ascasíbar participated as a speaker at the “Promoting an entrepreneurial spirit” workshop, held at the European Parliament premises on 10th May. He promoted the collective entrepreneurship among young people through telling the story of the worker cooperative Agresta, active in the forestry management in several Spanish regions, he created several years ago with friends from university.

CECOP together with Louis Cousin and Jordi Hubert took part at the roundtable "Think Youth, Think Cooperatives!", organized by the European Youth Forum, on how young people can benefit from working together in cooperatives. Diana Dovgan, Policy Officer of CECOP, mentioned the added value of setting up an enterprise in a cooperative form: “the risk of failure can discourage young people to start their own business. In a worker cooperative,k not only the risk is shared among the members but also the solutions. Therefore there are more chances to prevent and overcome the failure.”. “We have created something collectively bringing solidarity and justice to the workplace. We are answering a common need and building our own world according to our own values”, said Louis Cousin from Solidarité Etudiante, the first student cooperative in France that groups students, employees and other partners to manage the canteens and shops in several universities in France. The toolkit "Money grows on trees. Youth organisations setting-up cooperatives" published by the European Youth Forum in collaboration with CECOP and Cooperatives Europe was launched at that occasion (available here).

Over half of Europe’s young people feel excluded from economic and social life, says a recent Eurobarometer poll. The EYE agenda listed five key issues for young people today: youth unemployment, the digital revolution, the future of the European Union, sustainable development, and European values. The event discussed those topics through more than 200 debates and workshops with participants between 16 and 30 expressing their opinions on policy issues close to their hearts. The ideas will be presented to the incoming European Parliament in July.

Discover what the visitors of the CECOP stand at the EYE think about worker and social cooperatives here