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Celebrating the ‘Ninja Economy’

4 July 2018 at 8:32 am
Wendy Williams
Businesses in the so-called “ninja economy” are being encouraged to tell their stories and shine a light on the cooperative business model ahead of the International Day of Cooperatives.

Wendy Williams | 4 July 2018 at 8:32 am


Celebrating the ‘Ninja Economy’
4 July 2018 at 8:32 am

Businesses in the so-called “ninja economy” are being encouraged to tell their stories and shine a light on the cooperative business model ahead of the International Day of Cooperatives.

The 2018 International Day of Cooperatives will be celebrated on 7 July under the theme of sustainable consumption and production.

Melina Morrison, CEO of the Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals (BCCM), told Pro Bono News the day was a chance to celebrate what cooperatives do and recognise the important social and economic role of these businesses.

“What we’d like to say to cooperatives is that you need to take these sort of opportunities to shine a light on your business, your business model, and the ways that you contribute,” Morrison said.

“Not only to sustainable development, but if you think of what the globe is trying to do in finding ways of running the international economy in a way that allows people to thrive rather than increasing things like poverty, we’re trying to work together against the widening of the inequality gap.

“We need to unpack the business model for people so they can see how the way we do business actually achieves that objective. And to do that we need to tell our stories.”

Morrison said there was a big information gap between what people know and understand about cooperatives and their use of cooperatives, which led to the peak body coining the term the “ninja economy” to explain why this important part of the economy was “missing in plain sight”.

“We know that only three in 10 Australians can name a cooperative or mutual when you ask them, even though eight of them are actually a member,” she said.

“Since then we’ve measured that twice and we have not managed to shift the dial. So we would say we’ve still got a big job to do as a sector to tell our story better.”

Morrison said it was important for individual cooperatives to tell their stories through the voice of their members.

“Members of cooperatives and mutuals are proxy for the general public because we have a broad, diverse membership base across Australia of about 15 million members, that’s highly representative so we have to tell our stories through the voice of the member,” she said.

But she said it was also important for cooperatives collectively to live under the guiding principle of “cooperation amongst cooperatives”, to try and fix some of the issues that contribute to the lack of awareness, beginning with education.

“Currently in our education programs we do not have education about this business model and that is something, you can’t do as an individual business, you have to do that as a sector because it requires advocacy and change at a national level,” Morrison said.

Morrison said the slogan of the day,“sustainable societies through cooperation”, which was selected by cooperators from around the world, spoke to it being about more than the business model.

“It’s actually about the act of cooperating that drives a sustainable outcome for people,” she said.

“What we’re learning today is that cooperation is as important as competition in getting an economy to be vibrant, to be growing, to be more productive and therefore to deliver a better standard of living for ordinary people.

“The importance of cooperation as a principle is starting to emerge as a really important pattern across society not only in the way we do business but in the way we do everything.”

The 2018 theme is aligned with that of the 2018 High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF), “transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”.

During the HLPF in July, UN Member States will review progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for clean water and sanitation, clean and affordable energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production and life on land.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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