Global Cooperative Entrepreneurs (GCE) is an innovative mentoring programme that brings together young entrepreneurs with a brilliant coop idea with mentors from both the cooperative movement and youth organisations. This methodology allows young entrepreneurs benefit from knowledge and interactions that go beyond the cooperative movement, as well as cooperatives and youth organisations find synergies and better ways of collaboration.
The GCE programme not only generates a global network of like-minded people, but it also works as a catalyser of new ideas to support young entrepreneurs to make their coop dream come true. It is an initiative by the ICA-EU Partnership (#coops4dev), inspired by the CoopStarter 2.0 Erasmus+ funded project coordinated by Cooperatives Europe.
Find out more about the programme in this brand-new webpage!
Meet some of the GCE youth ambassadors and mentors! Today, we talk with mentors Rose, Actmore and Heira!
Name of her organisation: Uganda Cooperative Alliance LTD
Name of his organisation: Junior Achievement Zimbabwe
Name of her organisation: Institute for Indonesia Cooperative Development and Studies (LSP2I / ICDS)
What was the main reason to become a GCE Mentor?
Rose: To support and mentor Youth Ambassadors in mobilizing youth to form youth organisations and engaged in business. It is a way to support them in organizing income generating activities and providing employment opportunities.
Actmore: I wanted to share my experience and expertise with young people so that they embrace entrepreneurship for development. I also wanted to learn from other young people and mentors across the continent on how best we can come up with solutions for youth in Africa.
Heira: Indonesia has a big demographic divident, as 70,72% of its population is in productive age, and young generations represent a high percentatge of its population. On the other side, the cooperative model in Indonesia doesn’t attract young people as it is perceived as an outdated model. Therefore, we have a lack of young people taking part in cooperatives. I hoped the GCE program may change the mindset of young people and they will see cooperatives as “the cool way to run a business”.
How is the GCE program also benefiting your project and/or organisation?
R: It is helping the organization in mobilizing more young people to either join cooperatives or form youth organisations and get involved in income generating activities.
A: A great exposure and learning opportunities have been the greatest benefits. It activates innovation and creativity within the organization .
H: By influencing young people that cooperative can be an alternative or a choice to run a business. The GCE program gives them new perspective by presenting it is a global movement. I can be their role model and inspirator. In short, it can benefit in three ways; by influencing, changing the perspective, and inspirating youth.
Have you seen an increased collaboration between cooperatives and youth organisations since the beginning of the GCE program? If so, how do you think this collaboration can benefit both parts?
R: Yes, there is an increased collaboration between cooperatives and youth organizations. Some youth organizations have visited cooperatives to learn from them.
The collaboration can benefit both parties in a number of ways indicated below:
- In a situation in which youth organisations and cooperatives are engaged in the same enterprise and they are located closely, they can jointly look for market opportunities and negotiate for a better price.
- Likewise, they can procure input together at a lower price, hence cut the cost of production.
- Youth organisations can also become cooperative member and work together for the benefit of both parties (e.g if the cooperative is involved in value addition such as processing, the youth organization will also be in position of using the processing equipment, increase the value of their products and earn a higher income). The cooperative on the other hand will get commission from the sale.
A: There is great mutuality since youth organizations provide a voice for cooperatives to be taken seriously by the government. Formalization and finding spaces to operate in Zimbabwe have been a challenge, but the emerging collaboration, is helping to change the landscape for cooperators and youth organizations.
What is your advice for a young cooperative entrepreneur aiming at mobilizing youth around his/her business idea?
R: Young cooperative entrepreneurs should be patient with youth and show them that they love and care about their future and want to support them to have better future by having their own businesses. Young cooperative entrepreneurs can learn from members of successful youth organisations. These members can share their own experience and explain how their lives have changed after becoming members of youth organisations. If there are nearby youth groups with successful business, Youth Ambassadors can organize visits with young entrepreneurs to learn from them.
A: The most important attribute that should stood up is confidence. Young people believe in strong and confident leaders. They should believe in their idea and focus on building it. Youth are usually hesitant to start things. Therefore, the entrepreneur should be able to encourage others and to foster their enthusiasm to join the start-up idea.
H: Keep going! That’s the suggestion I always say to every young person who has idea about empowering the community. We can’t compete in the global economy, but we can strengthen our local economy. So, keep going with the idea, meeting many people, attending all (online) event related to the idea, learning anytime and have a good mentor to assist and motivate you with the implementation of the idea.
The ICA-EU Partnership on international development (also known as #coops4dev) was signed in 2016 between the International Cooperative Alliance and the European Commission to strengthen the cooperative movement as key actor in international development.
Read more about #coops4dev on our website.