The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Students Must Learn About Cooperative Business Models

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June 9, 2013by: 

Entrepreneurship is the main thing that is taught in business schools. A good business does not encourage being employed but generates a want among students to be their own boss. What most business schools fail to understand is that behavior is the key to entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial education should ultimately impart values, skills, knowledge and ability to ensure a good entrepreneurial behavior. Institutions should teach values rather than attitudes to achieve this. When students are taught through this perspective, they learn to work with the community for economic welfare of society rather than mere profits. One way of achieving this is teaching the students about cooperative business models.

The new economy will be cooperative based

The main aim of any business student is to make a mark in the society. Traditionally, business schools equip students with tools through which they can raise money, create marketing channels, and ultimately make profits. The old world economy that was based on these has miserably failed in the recent times. On the other hand, business models based on cooperatives have been resilient to the economic downturn. The reason is that these models are largely based on domestic produce and local markets, which are mostly unaffected by global economy. They promote local employment and keep the revenue within the community. Students who do not know the concepts of cooperative business models will be left behind in the new economy.

Business schools must increase the awareness about cooperatives among students

The curriculum of business schools must be designed to raise awareness about cooperatives. Cooperatives should be presented as possible places to work and opportunities to start a new venture with like minded people. If students are made to know about cooperatives early, they would support them fully, understanding the values behind them. This would lead them to contribute to a world of ethical commerce, economic democracy, and fairness.

Several cooperatives around the world have made it big

The business students must be taught about the success stories of cooperatives around the world in the form of case studies. Take for instance, India, which is the largest producer of milk in the world. It has only been possible through Amul, which is owned by over 3 million small dairy farmers, mostly comprised of women. In Kenya, cooperatives contribute to almost half of the country’s GDP. In the United States, Ocean Spray, a cooperative, is among the largest cranberry producers in the world. It has registered up to 20% growth even during the economic crisis.

When students are familiarized with such success stories, they think beyond being just businessmen and look at business models that actually benefit the society through profit distribution and employment generation. It must be known that the world’s 300 largest cooperatives generate revenues amounting to over $1.6 trillion and employ more than 100 million people globally according to a report by the United Nations in November of last year. The goal of business schools should, therefore, be to change how students view and feel about cooperatives and encourage them to patronize these.


Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

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