On 22 March there was a joint meeting of the Business20 (B20) taskforces and cross-thematic working groups at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris. The Alliance was represented on this occasion by its director general, Charles Gould, and its director of Policy, Rodrigo Gouveia. The co-operative delegation also consisted, representing the co-operative and mutual insurance sector, of Shaun Tarbuck, chief executive of ICMIF and Teresa Rasmussen, president of Thrivent Financial. The purpose of the meeting was to finalise and approve the recommendations that the B20 will send to the heads of state and government of G20 countries ahead of their annual meeting.
During this year’s German presidency, co-operative representatives were very active in all the taskforces and working groups presenting views and examples from the co-operative movement. As a highlight, the Alliance president, Monique F. Leroux, co-chaired the Cross-Thematic Group on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME). As a result, the final policy papers, that provide recommendations to G20 governments, contain several references to co-operatives.
Among those, the policy paper on SMEs, which says that “SMEs might also help each other by combining their market power in a jointly-owned and jointly-managed structure, such as a co-operative. Common-owned structures like co-operatives might allow SMEs to maintain their independence and identity while delegating certain business functions (e.g. sourcing, marketing) to a larger entity that can negotiate better market conditions through the power of the collective. When formulating public policies for the development of SMEs, G20 governments should take into consideration the specificities of these structures and adapt regulations accordingly, that allow them to be established and to develop”.
Similarly, on the Employment and Education policy paper, the B20 says that “G20 governments should promote entrepreneurship as a way to boost self-employment by reducing administrative burdens related to the creation of business, and by promoting a diversity of business models, including cooperatives and other social economy enterprises. These allow people to mutualise risks, offering a good alternative for women, youth and other disadvantaged groups to access entrepreneurship.
These examples illustrate that the International Co-operative Alliance has managed to increase the profile of co-operatives in global policy-making influence groups thanks to the committed and very active participation of its staff and members.