The co-operative solution

There are a lot of preconceptions towards our 21st century’s young generations. However, a creative seminar on the future of cooperative undertakings with participants between the age of 18-25 shows that many of these preconceptions are simply not true. As the think-tank Innovation Camp proves, young people are both willing and able to cooperate, says consultant Annette Jacobsen from Kooperationen. She is the coordinator behind Innovation Camp, where 18 individuals from a wide range of cooperative enterprises spent two days together to develop ideas and specific proposals for future cooperative enterprises.

Cooperative innovation

One of the central questions discussed at the Innovation Camp was: Can and will the youth of today lead the cooperative movement and its ideals into the future? Yes, of course we can and there is a great interest in doing so among young people., says Morten Mikkelsen, who as a student took part in the Innovation Camp. The cooperative enterprises are much better prepared and willing to help people that have not had the best start in life and who are in need of a little extra help when it comes to finding and holding down a job for example. Such efforts underline the importance of cooperative enterprises and it is exactly what we need. Morten adds that cooperatives can and in fact should play an active role in the pursuit of a more equally socially balanced society. And specifically, cooperatives should also be more heavily represented in various business activities and also in product development schemes . One can easily imagine new cooperative enterprises, for example enterprises supplying green energy, building affordable homes or creating new products for the food industry, says Morten.

Self-involvement is cooperation

For Kenneth Jørgensen, who works in a cooperative enterprise that specializes in re-training unemployed people, socially responsible management is crucial: For me it is both important and motivating, that I feel that I have a real and sustainable influence on my company’s business philosophy. As a simple employee, I feel that I have an effect on my company’s business strategies and ethics. and I find that very fulfilling says Kenneth. During the two-day Innovation Camp Hans and Morten's group developed a proposal for a cooperative owned energy company, while two other groups came up with ideas for a cooperative employment agency and a public transport company. Results from the camp were presented at Kooperationen’s annual meeting. Through this initiative, Kooperationen has indeed met a generation of youth who are empowered by the cooperative principles and possess the experiences and skills required to play an important role as future community leaders.