Following the creation of the International Cooperative Entrepreneurship Think Tank (ICETT) last October where inter-cooperation was at the center of the discussion, consumer cooperatives from Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico visited cooperatives in Finland and Sweden and opened concrete new opportunities.
“Establishing these contacts and strengthening these links allows us to think and plan possible integration actions with cooperatives in other countries. We can complement each other to provide better services to our respective associates”, pointed out the manager of one of the cooperatives of the delegations, Mr. Héctor Jacquet.
Not only did the initiative open new opportunities for the cooperatives such as importing products under more favorable conditions, but it also allowed them to learn new techniques of production and distribution.
Among the companies visited, the Finish Sok is a market leader in retail owning 1.600 stores. Third in the Swedish market share, Forbundet clusters 39 cooperatives and employs over 3 million people.
The delegations were led by the president of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) Ariel Guarco and also visited Belgium and France. They were also welcomed, in each country, by Argentina’s ambassadors that showed their support to the opening of commercial opportunities of Argentinian companies in Europe.
In France the visits included Group up, Crédit Cooperatif and Enercoop which activities are in the business to business services, banking and renewable energy, respectively.
As in Belgium, Ecopower and Rescoop of the renewable energy sector as well as Smart that provides legal and accounting tools to artists and freelancers and Bees Coop, the first cooperative supermarket in Belgium, featured in this European tour.
In addition, the delegations were welcomed at the global office of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), in Brussels, by its Director General Mr. Roelants.