Four Kinds of Intercooperation among Cooperatives
by Bob Stone

© 2001 GEO, P.O. Box 115, Riverdale, MD 20738-0115

Intercooperation—cooperation among cooperatives—is among the original Rochdale principles of cooperativism. GEO’s  national directory of worker co-ops and support organizations, An Economy of Hope can facilitate wide practice of four forms of intercooperation, described below. (If you can think of another form, write and we’ll send a gift GEO sub and a copy of An Economy of Hope to your designee).  

1. Regional intercooperation. The 50-plus member Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives didn’t need An Economy of Hope; it had already been organized. But new Amherst-area and Boston-area networks could not have started without it. Nearby worker co-ops can now find each other more easily, discuss common ads, share democratic procedures, offer network discounts, hire a tech support person, or exchange skills through a members’ technical service “bank.”

2. Sectoral intercooperation. 15 worker co-op printers, 14 worker co-op bookstores, and 7 worker co-op builders are listed in An Economy of Hope. They can now compare problems and solutions over the internet. Worker co-ops in day care, auto and bike repair, community agriculture, credit and banking, computer-related services, etc. can more easily establish list-serves.

3. Commercial intercooperation. (Business to Business). Coops can buy and sell from each other. Printers can get paper from 3 recycled paper coops listed in  GEO’s national. directory, builders can get plywood and fixtures from four construction supply co-ops; office-related co-ops can get supplies from cooperative suppliers — all can in turn meet their printing services from co-op printers, remodeling from co-op builders, etc.

4. Generative intercooperation, or collective entrepreneurship. If a network needs an item a co-op doesn’t supply, it can seek equity capital and loans to start one, then guarantee it business to get started. For example: GEO needs low-cost web press printing, not high quality offset. Were there enough Northeast worker cooperatives also needing web press products, we could join with a co-op printer to purchase a web press, then guarantee the new coop the business needed to pay the loans. Co-op accounting, banking, and legal services might be generated in the same way.

The point is: to any cooperative problem there is a cooperative solution, made easier by An Economy of Hope. With additional future funding, GEO hopes to make available a revised and expanded CD and or electronic edition in the future, with a searchable data base that will allow searches by product, geographic area, etc.

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©2001 GEO, P.O. Box 115, Riverdale, MD 20738-0115