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Our biggest local shop is The Co-operative, or the Co-op as we all call it. It’s somewhere that I know I’ll bump into people I know, I’ll have to harass my kids to put things back and by the end of it I’ll want to flop down on the sofa at home and not go back for a week!
When I go to the Co-op, the last thing I’m usually thinking about is “what is this business doing for others?”. No, at the forefront of my mind is “Please let them have the right bread this time and… Oh! Cookies!”. That’s just how my mind works.
Just after seeing the new advert for their new campaign, Join the revolution, I was approached by their PR people to learn more about them and, if I liked what I saw, write a bit about it.
It all goes back to the basics.
When The Co-op was first formed by the “Rochdale Pioneers” in 1844, it was different. A group of people got together and opened this business together as a democracy. No one person could decide what happened. It meant that the people running the Co-op were also the customers, so they could guide the business in ways they knew it would help their community.
These days The Co-operative is helping people all over the world to have a better life.
In Kenya they’ve helped establish the Kibagenge Project to help over 10,000 smallholder tea farmers come together as co-operatives. Kibagenge means “coming together as one”.
These farmers now have a stronger voice by working together, and are able to access markets that would previously have been unavailable for them. Because of this they are now Fairtrade certified, enabling them to supply tea for the Co-op’s ’99’ Fairtrade tea blend, and as they own their business, they no longer have a middle man to take their profits from them. Basically, through the Kibagenge Project, these tea farmers are now able to sustain themselves and their community much more than they have before, all because they are collectively in charge of their own co-operative business.
Anything that can help people live a more comfortable life is ok in my book!
I’m not sure of any Co-operative schemes in my area, but I think I should maybe have a look! Is there anything around where you live?