Cooperatives : A Better Future for the Young People

A better future for young people, what cooperatives can offer….

Too many young people are experiencing a serious mix of high unemployment, increased inactivity and insecure work, as well as persistently high working poverty. The cooperative form of enterprise provides young people a means to create their own employment, find jobs with enterprises that often align themselves with their own values, and participate as member-owners of enterprises where their voices are heard.

Today, there are an estimated 1.2 billion young people between 15 and 24 years old, the largest generation of young people the world has ever known. In 2012, close to 75 million young people out of work, 4 million more than in 2007. For those that are working, over 200 million earn less than US$ 2 a day. Youth are almost three times as likely to be unemployed than adults.

Cooperatives are principle-based enterprises that put people, rather than the pursuit of profit at the center of their business. Because of this they follow a broader set of values than those associated purely with making a profit- namely self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. The democratic nature of the cooperative enterprise encourages participation, broadens ownership and fosters empowerment of youth.

It is estimated that cooperatives provide 100 million jobs world-wide. Although the exact proportion of youth in this total is difficult to determine, cooperatives are clearly a significant source of employment creation. The cooperative model of enterprise contributes to youth employment not by only providing salaried employment, but also facilitating job creation through self-employment. The model lends itself to both rural and urban areas and for persons of all academic and skill levels including recent graduates who have limited prospects of finding jobs.

For those that are looking to start a business, cooperatives enable young people to pool often limited financial resources with knowledge in an enterprise that can respond to nearly every need and productive activity.

Cooperatives also play a role in formalization of informal employment through collective voice and economies of scale and extension of social protection. In Africa especially Ghana, the entrepreneurs’ cooperatives are showing signs of growth, where small and medium businesses, many of which are informal, come together to form a cooperative to share services.

One area of particular importance is access to finance for young people who wish to start their own businesses. According to the World Bank 2.5 billion people and 400 million businesses worldwide do not have access to financial services and products needed for growth. Youth are 33% less likely to have a bank account and 40 % less likely to have formal savings and less than 5% of youth have access to financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Financial cooperatives mainly the cooperative credit unions as the second largest banking network worldwide with 45 per cent of their branches in rural areas and with a proven history of resilience in times of economic and financial crises, play a pivotal role. They support the creation and growth of all forms of business by providing access to financial services including credit. Many have introduced specific services to cater to the needs of young people and young entrepreneurs to allow them to start, maintain and grow their enterprises – cooperative as well as other forms of business.

Cooperatives can offer a better future to young people if we properly introduce the cooperative concept to them and Ghana Cooperative Council is mandated to ensure this happens.

Source : coopedia

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