Federation of Young Co-operators

Date of Incorporation

July 1999

Membership

The Federation of Co-operativist Youth encompasses approximately 1000 young people from ages 14 to 35.

Youth Centre Activities

At the time of its establishment, the Federation of Co-operativist Youth had the sole objective of educating and training young people in co-operative matters. Since then, it has incorporated productive endeavours. Some of the activities currently undertaken by the Co-operativist Youth Centres are:

Productive Projects:

  • Poultry Farms
  • Grain Plantations
  • Communal Market Gardens (Horticulture)
  • Tobacco Plantations
  • Small Plastic Bags Manufacturing
  • Canvas Shoes (Espadrilles) Manufacturing
  • Forest Nursery
  • Beekeeping
  • Regional Wood Craftwork Manufacturing
  • Co-operative Bakery

Training and Vocational Activities:

  • Co-operative Education Project Evaluation Courses
  • Co-operative Management Courses
  • Seminars on School Co-operatives
  • Computer Courses
  • Tour Guide Training
  • Communal School Library Project

Social and Dissemination Activities:

  • Organisation of Inter-School Olympics
  • Notes, Reports, and Dissemination of the Co-operative Youth Movement
  • Awarding of Scholarships
  • Co-operative Newspaper
  • Organisation of Co-operative Youth Camps
  • Radio Programme on Co-operative Interests

Antecedents / Context

Starting in 1998, Argentina’s Northeast Region went through the worst socio-economic crisis in its history. Corrientes was particularly affected because of its large farm production base and scarce population. The economic crisis offered an uncertain future, especially for the young people. Some groups of young people started to organize themselves, in the process emphasizing such values as solidarity, co-operation, asociativismo, and ethics.

Objectives

  • Encouraging, promoting, and developing Youth Centres
  • Representing the Youth Centres in Public and Private Organisations
  • Organising and participating in courses, seminars, and similar activities
  • Creating a space for exchanging co-operative experiences
  • Supporting programmes and activities encouraging the young people’s complete fulfillment within the co-operative environment
  • Promoting cultural exchange programmes among youth in the region
  • Encouraging the development of co-operative youth ventures for production and/or service

Organisation’s Beginnings

The initiative arose with a group of students who set out to work together with young people associated with the co-operative movement in the Province of Corrientes. They organised themselves first into Youth Centres and then into the Federation of Co-operativist Youths. They encountered some difficulties in the early period. One problem was that some parents believed it would be better for the young people to remain focused on their work rather than on attending training activities. Another problem was that some political activists tried to use the co-operative to build support during elections.

Organisational Structure

There are ten Youth Centres attached to the Federation, which is run by a Board of Directors. The Federation’s board is made up of six permanent members (president, vice-president, secretary, pro-secretary, treasurer, and pro-treasurer), one permanent trustee and one substitute. It is operated under two-year mandates that are reviewed annually. In addition, two representatives from each of the Youth Centres can participate at Board meetings, having the right to both speak and vote. Members from the Centres can use the Federation’s services, actively participate in its assemblies, run for the Board of Directors, participate in the elections, and propose initiatives for consideration by the Board and the Assemblies. They also have free access to the information that the Federation provides. The organization is funded by contributions made by the members (fifty pesos per year) and through donations received from associates and other public or private institutions. Within the Federation, an authority, called Department of Youth, is in charge of managing, organising, and supervising the activities taking place. It also reviews suggested projects from the various Youth Centres, finding financial resources and supporting project development. This Department has three working areas: institutional relationships, internal development, and management development. Administratively, it is divided into four branches: management, accounting, education, and productive projects.

Links to the Community / Networks

The young people making up the Educational Committee visit provinces in the whole country in order to educate and train young co-operativist leaders. Members of the Committee work together with the National Institute of Association and Social Economy, the Federation of Co-operatives of Corrientes, and the Provincial Headquarters of Co-operatives, as well as other provincial organisations of education, national and provincial authorities supporting small producers, and national universities. Federation members can also attend the meetings of the Board of Directors to address issues that affect rural co-operatives at the national level, as well as those of importance to urban co-operatives.

Lessons Learned

One of the most important lessons learned is that a good provincial co-operativist leader needs to be able to go out and find out what is happening in the country. He or she should not be satisfied to remain seated behind a desk. It is also important to have strong associations with the provincial co-operative movement. Young people learn from what adults have done well and not so well. Having a range of ages involved helps to bring continuity to already developed tasks and allows generational succession to happen under more experienced leadership. Finally, gathering into local youth centres has enabled youth to develop an effective process of social and cultural integration, which allows them to respond to the need for personal advancement as well as for community growth. A youth project run by youth can find solutions to the various issues emerging within the working, social, educational, and productive environments in which they live. We can also be pleased as we measure success in quantitative terms and can see how a great number of young people have benefited from the Federation’s activities. Furthermore, we can also measure success qualitatively as we review the development of solid productive projects, dissemination activities, and institutional participation.

Creator - Author(s) Name and Title(s): 
Federation of Young Co-operators
Publication Information: 
Youth Reinventing Co-operatives: Young Perspectives on the International Co-operative Movement – (Eds.) Robin Puga, Julia Smith, and Ian MacPherson
Date: 
Saturday, January 1, 2005
Publisher Information: 
New Rochdale Press, British Columbia Institute for Co-operative Studies

Location

Argentina