Take a look below at what Paul thought of our first ever International Co-operative Development webinar!

Last week I had the pleasure in taking part in the first webinar of the new Co-operative College course “Exploring International Co-operative Development: An Introduction”, skilfully delivered by my experienced colleagues Dr. Sarah Alldred, International Project Development Manager, and Dr. Amanda Benson, Project and Research Officer. The course draws on Sarah and Amanda’s experience of delivering Co-operative College programmes in Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, Lesotho and Sri Lanka (I’m sure I’ve missed some!).

I have always been passionate about development, human rights and social justice, but “co-operative development” is new to me since starting at the Co-operative College last year. What does co-operative development offer that is different? How does it ensure those most in need are supported? What does co-operative development actually look like?

I wasn’t alone in these questions and the course aptly answered these among others in this comprehensive introduction to the course.

The webinar

The webinar was friendly, informative and supportive. All attendees came from very different starting points, made up of international co-op development agencies staff, worker co-op members and those simply with a general interest in co-ops or development, but it worked for those with significant knowledge of international co-op development and those with less knowledge (like myself!) alike.

A number of well facilities “breakout sessions” gave us the opportunity to draw on the experiences of the group and share our opinion in a safe and supportive environment.

We critically reflected on what international development is, what is a co-op in the international context and what makes co-operative international development distinctive. We examined best practice case studies from South America and Africa.

The co-operative difference

Most interestingly we analysed the added value, benefits and what challenges the co-operative model present. Amanda made a very important point that co-operatives, as people centred organisations, often have the strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities that all people have –but this is what makes co-operatives unique and what makes them so efficient at serving the needs of their members.

With over 1 billion members worldwide, it is undoubtedly doing something right, and as Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General, United Nations pointed out:

 “Co-operatives are a unique and invaluable presence in today’s world. They help to reduce poverty and generate jobs.”

I am unsure if I am able to attend the next webinar, but it is recorded, so I won’t miss out. I will be attending the day school coming up, which will be a wonderful opportunity to meet the exciting group of course participants in person.

If Paul's blog has inspired you to read more, then why not take a look at the course itself! Simply click the button below.

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