Italy trip 2 years ago In #6 of our series of vignettes from Emilio-Romagna, Flavio Delbono, Professor of Economics at the University of Bologna, gives an overview of the power of cooperatives in Italy. With 7% of the population, coops account for 9% of GDP. The wide range of co-operative businesses in the region maintain social cohesion by reducing income inequality and raising the average standard of living. The pay difference is 5 times the lowest wage. Coops are also known for non-discrimination policies and providing opportunities for young people. We're sharing these economic travel stories to help educate and inspire American cooperative business. #FFCItaly 2 years ago In the 7th of 16 Emilia-Romagna vignettes, we’re out of the classroom and into the plant on our tour of Italian coops. “Artlining” produces cotton and wool linings for high-fashion men’s ties. The business was rescued from bankruptcy in 2009 and turned into a worker-owned co-op. Stefania Ghidoni explains the most challenging process they went through: changing their mindset from being workers to owners. Sales last year were a profitable €2.2 million. Since the conversion, they’ve bought both the building and equipment. #FFCItaly 2 years ago #8 of 16 vignettes from Emilio-Romagna: there are 300 Credit Unions in Italy, and they have a 10% market share. General Manager, Daniele Ravaglia, of Emil Banca explains their roots as a country bank, founded 120 years ago. They are now the second largest co-op bank in Italy, with a 2% market share in Bologna and more than 50% in the countryside, all the while maintaining their primary function: “to work for members and local communities.” Emil Banca has 472 full-time employees and generates $114 million in annual revenue. #FFCItaly 2 years ago #9 of 16 stories of Italian coops: Confcooperative Emilia-Romagna is an umbrella organization of agricultural, fishing, housing, banking, consumers, labor, solidarity, tourism, mutual and health sectors. With 234,000 members, it employs 76,000 and generates annual gross revenues of €14 billion. The organization’s new Director Pierlorenzo Rossi explains his belief that humanity must revise its meaning by developing a more collective vision of society. Their goal is to interact with institutions to promote non-capitalistic goals. #FFCItaly 2 years ago #10 of 16 stories from coop-rich Emilia-Romagna: In many ways SACMI looks like a well run high-tech international corporation. But it's a co-op, one that expands the idea of cooperatives in a modern economy. Membership is not automatic and requires a high level of commitment, responsibility, and financial investment. For this reason employees outnumber members by more than 2 -1 (1,100 employees; 400 members). For nearly 100 years SACMI has weathered many economic storms to become a leader in the field of tile manufacturing machines and food packaging products. They are today the largest manufacturing co-op in Italy. With €900 2 years ago #11 of 16: Caviro is Italy’s leading wine group and the main Italian agricultural cooperative, comprised of 12,000 growers and 31 cooperative wineries, including Cavim. This winery cooperative was formed by the merger of two 50 year old winemakers. Grapes from 700 farms are delivered here for processing using state-of-the-art equipment and technology. The co-op produces 400,000 bottles of wine a year from mainly sangiovese, pignoletto, trebbiano, and chardonnay grapes. Samuele Lullo, a worker at the cooperative, tells us that their wines are sold almost exclusively in Italy. Fortunately, there is a tasting room for those who do not live 2 years ago #12 of 16 co-op stories from Emilia-Romagna, Italy: Started as a co-operative of plumbers, electricians, and tinsmiths in the height of the Great Depression, Cefla saw importance of diversification as the key to its survival. Today it operates four manufacturing business units that range from medical equipment to supermarket shelving. Vice President Claudio Fedrigo explains that the co-operative mentality is present in everything they do. The most important goal is that the business is there for future generations. The blending of cooperative participation and market oriented objectives has worked well for Cefla: net profits for last year were €13 million. 2 years ago 13th in a series of 16 vignettes on Italian coops: Cooperativa Sociale Giovanni Rilegatori is a good example of the new model of social cooperatives that Italy is pioneering in the Emilia-Romagna region. 55% of the coop's 25 full-time employees are disabled people who would otherwise have difficulty finding employment. But here they are engaged in printing posters and business cards, managing an archive, and other tasks. The working environment is healthy and productive. Co-op President, Carlo Alberto Gollini, has been with the co-op since its inception in 1983 and expresses this essential value, "The Co-op does not belong to 2 years ago #14 of 16 vignettes from Emilia-Romagna. Banks are consolidating throughout the world and it is no different with credit unions, explains Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Bologna, Massimiliano Marzo. Following the economic crisis of 2011, Italy experienced a 10% reduction in GDP, and the number of banks shrank from 600 to 300. Many local banks, including credit unions, had given unsecured loans for real estate, which exacerbated the crisis. While a strong proponents of Credit Unions, Associate Professor Marzo believes they need to be strongly regulated. "They need to be more efficient and aggressive in a good 2 years ago #15 of 16 vignettes on cooperative economies. The Arvaia agricultural co-operative, founded in 2013, combines the CSA and co-operative models. It has 350 members, 7 full time and 2 seasonal workers, a five-member Board and a president. Members pay an average of €730 a year and receive 48 weeks of produce that includes vegetables: tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, etc. and seeds such as wheat, barley, alfalfa, and sunflower. The co-op rents 47 hectares (100 acres) from the municipality of Bologna to operate the farm. Worker/founder, Alberto Veronesi, says they have 140 cycles of vegetables in a year and run the farm 2 years ago In the last of 16 stories from Emilia-Romagna, the spirit of cooperation is alive in the faces of those who gave their lives fighting fascism during World War II. Their faces are seen on the walls of the streets of Bologna today. An undying flame seeks justice in both politics and economics. It’s the same spirit that created 400,000 small businesses in a population of 4 million people, 8,000 of which are co-operatives: the highest density of cooperatives in the world. #FFCItaly 2 years ago There's no place like home, and no bread like Sorrel's at Uppingill Farm in Gill, Massachusetts. Fidanzata and I share an heirloom tomato, Uppingill's cheddar, and basil from my windowsill. I still miss the sound of l'Italiano, and hope to return to Emilia-Romagna. #FFCItaly The access_token provided is invalid.