ICA President Dame Pauline Green
Photo credit: Luis Gomez
San Diego, CA.; March 6, 2012 — Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, in a keynote address to the 2012 NRECA Annual Meeting, called on electric cooperatives nationwide to educate the public about the cooperative business model, a model “based on human need, not human greed.” Noting that cooperatives employ more than one billion people worldwide, Dame Green drew a sharp contrast between a business model concerned with maximizing profits for distant shareholders and member-owned, not-for-profit cooperatives.
The following is an excerpt from Dame Pauline Green’s keynote address:
…And as our world's leaders cast around looking for job creation initiatives to restore lost hope and aspiration to so many of its unemployed, we must be arguing the case that support for the grass roots cooperative model of business, has the potential to do so much more.
The world would be a different place if just a fraction of the public money was put into cooperative development that went to bail out the big commercial banks across the world….
One billion member owners of cooperatives across the globe -- contrast that fellow co-operators with the fact that the number of individuals who are shareholders in companies listed on the world's stock markets is just 327 million!
Cooperative businesses are built on the globally accepted principles of sound democracy; a commitment to an economic return to members on their trade with the business, and not the size of their share holding; and businesses having a wider social engagement as a core part of their DNA.
For nearly two centuries we have been helping to reduce conflict, build community cohesion, build skills and expertise, develop local leadership potential, support women into positions of economic activity and leadership in their communities -- in effect we have been building civil society -- all with the intellectual underpinning of the value of common endeavour in sustainable member-owned, local enterprises.… Cooperatives have taken millions out of poverty with dignity, by helping them to build their own cooperative enterprises.
Ladies and gentlemen, our commitment to our democratic and social agenda is built on a sound and successful member-owned business model. What is more, a business model that can compete successfully in the market place with other forms of business, and succeed.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.