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A Columbian adventure into youth co-operatives

Bogota

Julie Thorpe from the Co-operative College is currently in Bogota for a new international youth co-operatives project involving UK co-operative youth organisation the Woodcraft Folk and the International Falcon Movement-Socialist Educational International, which works to empower young people to take an active role in society.

A Columbian adventure into youth co-operatives

The project, which is called CooperACTION, aims to support and train new youth co-operatives in eleven local communities across Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It hopes to educate young people about co-operatives an alternative form of enterprise, raise awareness of Fairtrade and its benefit to communities, share experiences, challenges and successes between young co-operators around the world, encourage and support partnerships between young people and local producers and offer an alternative future to young unemployed people and those at risk of unemployment. Around twenty unemployed young people in each community will set up new co-operative enterprises, supported by participants in the CooperACTION project, gaining new self-confidence and employability and resulting in a new global network of young co-operators.

Members of partner projects from each country involved – the UK, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Austria, Senegal, Cameroon, Indonesia, India, Chile and Columbia – are in Bogota to receive training on co-operatives, Fairtrade and international development, which they will use to educate their peers at home to set up co-operatives in their communities.

A high-profile CooperACTION event will take place in Manchester in August 2013 to share ideas for co-operative enterprises, discuss how co-operation and democratic forms of business can reduce inequality and learn how to develop and implement participants’ business plans. Support and inspiration will be provided by professionals from co-operative and Fairtrade organisations, and ethical and co-operative enterprises will be promoted to the public during a Public Action Day. Educational materials on setting up co-operative enterprises are also being produced for use in schools and youth groups.

Attendees have been hearing about the Rochdale Pioneers and playing co-operative games. Julie Thorpe has been blogging about her experiences in Columbia on the Co-operative College’s blog. Keep up-to-date with her adventures at www.co-op.ac.uk/blog-posts/blogota and at www.co-op.ac.uk/2013/03/santa-ceclia.