Today I took part in an event to mark the beginning of the International Year of Co-operatives organised by the Scottish Government's co-operative agency Co-operative Development Scotland. The event took place at the the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative. There was a really interesting presentation from Mike Sweatman the Finance Director of the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative. They have been operating since 1977 and they believe that being a co-operative makes a real difference to their business.
The credit crunch demonstrates that the current dominant model of shareholder owned companies is at the very least not the only model which should be promoted. Indeed, it could be argued that trying to chase profits for shareholder gain is one of the reasons why the credit crunch happened in the first place.
There is scope for an expansion in the co-operative sector right across the economy. I think that empowering either employees or consumers is an important thing to do.
The video below gives an outline of the work and scope of co-operatives across the world.