Cooperative Cera Group visits ILO COOP

Kurt Moors (BRS) on the left and Trees Vandenbulcke (Coopburo) on the right.
On May 4, 2016 ILO COOP received visitors from the cooperative Cera with a view to exchange and discuss about possible collaboration and joint work between the two organizations. The COOP team welcomed the two specialized teams of Cera: BRS (Belgian Raiffeisen Foundation) and Coopburo. The BRS team, consisting of Kurt Moors, programme coordinator, and Vincent Monnart, agricultural finance specialist, is active in the field of microfinance and microinsurance. Coopburo, represented by Trees Vandenbulcke, provides advice and training for cooperatives.

'We do together what we are too small to do alone'. These words were written by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, a 19th century cooperative pioneer, who started rural credit unions in Germany during his tenure as a young mayor. Today his principles of cooperative self-help, self-governance and self-responsibility form the cornerstone of the work of the team. But the success of working alongside these principles is measured in only one way: to what extent do they improve the life of clients or members?

In addition to a long tradition and history of working on cooperative issues around the world, ILO and Cera share the recognition of the value of cooperative entrepreneurship. The discussions were centered largely on finance-related topics. Possible collaboration between the organizations was envisioned around the new as well as the existing training materials: My.COOP and My.Finance.Coop from the ILO and from BRS, with clear links to ILO’s work on social finance.

One topic of particular interest was around BRS’ coaching and mentoring methodologies and the exchange formats and broad network of Cera-Coopburo for cooperative exchanges. The two parties agreed to continue exchanging on the theme of the “coop-to-coop exchange”, to include knowledge and information sharing and transfer between cooperators in different countries and continents on issues such as financial cooperatives and agricultural cooperatives. Coop-to-coop exchange through coaching, beyond training, is an area of work that ILO COOP is interested in exploring with its cooperative partners across a range of areas including coop legislation, statistics and specific populations such as refugees or domestic workers.