In this article, we reproduce co-founder Rory Ridley-Duff’s article published in Issue 7 of STIR Magazine in 2014.  It discusses the differences between ‘old co-operativism’ and ‘new co-operativism’ and the position of the FairShares Model as part of the latter. The provisions for solidarity between multiple stakeholders make the FairShares Model one of very few Anglo-American approaches to the development of solidarity co-operatives.

In July 2014 I met Margaret Meredith and Catalina Quiroz, organisers of a three-year project to develop education resources for the social economy at York St John University. Both of them had been travelling in South America for three months to learn about the solidarity economy. We first met at the FairShares Association Conference, then again at the Co-operative and Social Enterprise Summer School hosted by Sheffield Hallam University. After four days of discussion, they told me they wanted to include the FairShares Model in a handbook on new co-operativism. This got me thinking about what’s new and its relationship to old co-operativism.

The FairShares Model is a project of Social Enterprise Europe. In this agency, the board recognised that theearliest developments in social enterprise between 1976 to 1982 were rooted in commitments to co-operativevalues and principles: social finance at the Grameen Bank, Banglandesh (1976); social auditing at Beechwood College, Leeds, UK (1978); social co-operatives in Bologna, Italy (1978), and — the exception — social entrepreneurship at ASHOKA, USA (1982). Each initiative developed contributions to practice that we take for granted today. Importantly, they supported projects that combined member ownership with sustainable development goals and social impact measurement. Even the Chief Operating Officer of Unilever, Harish Manwani, argues there is an inexorable move towards a ‘responsible business’ model in which a licence to operate is only granted when an enterprise creates both economic and social value.

To read the rest of “New Co-operativism and the FairShares Model”, by Rory Ridley-Duff, download the PDF here from Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive (SHURA).

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