“Cooperative enterprises help build a better world.” That’s the slogan for the UN International Year of Cooperatives 2012, which was launched just a few weeks ago, and it’s a salient reminder that there are alternative ways to ‘do business’ in a world ravaged by economic crisis, climate change and undemocratic leadership.
Cooperatives are business enterprises owned and controlled by the very members they serve, able to balance the pursuit of profit and shareholder value with the needs and interests of their members and their communities. In assigning 2012 as International Year of Cooperatives, the UN has recognised the impact that cooperatives are having in poverty reduction, employment generation, sustainable development and social integration.
The slogan above could just as well apply to social enterprises. Today is Social Enterprise Day. A day of celebration and profile-raising for organisations that are harnessing the power of business to create a fairer world.
The UK is recognised as a world leader in social enterprises with 62,000 UK based-social enterprises contributing over £24 billion to the economy and employing 800,000 people, while simultaneously addressing the real needs of communities.