Vivian Woodell of the Phone Co-op has drawn my attention to a news report of the proposed stock market flotation and demutualisation of a small cooperative bank in Melrose, Massachusetts (here). You’ll see that Vivian has also added his own comment on the webpage, making the point that “the fundamental purpose of a shareholder-driven business is to make money for shareholders, whereas the purpose of a co-operative is to serve its members”.
Capital has been identified by the International Co-operative Alliance as a key issue for the global cooperative movement to debate, and the ICA’s absolutely right. We have lost too many cooperatives (especially financial and agricultural cooperatives) over the years to the private sector because traditional equity capital seemed to be the only new source of capital on offer. We need some innovative solutions for capital for coops, including taking a new look at the opportunities for member-provided investment capital.