IRU Representatives Emphasize the Importance of the Co-operative Model in EACB Apropos Banking Webinar
On January 24, the EACB hosted a webinar on “The Future of the Co-operative Business Model” which gathered high-level speakers from the co-operative world and the academic community.
The event focused on the prospects for the co-operative business model and the challenges for the co-operative identity, particularly in light of the trends emerging from the increasing digitalisation and the ecological transition of our economies.
Nina Schindler, EACB CEO, leading through the programme, stressed the relevance of co-operatives for the economy and the need for specific co-operative perspectives to be well recognised and considered by politicians, regulators and legislators.
Susanne Westhausen, President of Co-operatives Europe and head of Danish Kooperationen, pointed out that in many countries the co-operative model would become a “forgotten way” to do business and that the co-operative identity would require more promotion. Nevertheless, with an optimistic eye to the future of co-operatives, she said: “In times of trouble people get together to reach for solutions to meet their common needs and aspirations through jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprises, such as co-operatives.”
In the subsequent panel discussion, representatives from the co-operative banking sector and academics addressed the current trends in banking from their perspective. CERA Chief Excutive Officer and IRU President Mr Franky Depickere as well as IRU Presidium Member and Director International Affairs at Rabobank Prof. Hans Groeneveld had been present. Both emphasized the importanct role cooperatives are playing still today and that they have a fundamental role with respect to the sustainable transition both with regard to the economies and societies. Furthermore, it would be key to maintain the proximity to customers and local presence while seizing the opportunity to be on top of digital evolution not missing the digitalisation train. In this context, Mr Depickere further highlighted the importance of the younger generation of cooperators as they are the cooperative leaders, workers and members of tomorrow who will keep the cooperative entrepreneuerial model and the Raiffeisen idea alive. Therefore it was overall concluded, that the current time is also the time of opportunity for co-operatives.