A group of cooperatives from a range of sectors has established a new federation in a bid to raise visibility and awareness of the business model. The Malta Cooperative Federation is already involved in supporting new cooperatives to set up shop, general secretary and chief executive Rolan Micallef Attard told The Times Business.

Cooperatives contribute to a fairer distribution of wealth

Meanwhile, the federation has filed an application with the Cooperatives Board for the use of ‘cooperative’ in its formal name.

“The federation is looking to increase the number of cooperatives in Malta,” Mr Micallef Attard explained. “We plan to work very hard to defeat the notion that local cooperatives are solely involved in sectors like fisheries or agriculture but have evolved so that there are cooperatives for consumers and workers. Among the federation’s initial objectives is the promotion of social cooperatives.”

The federation has been formed by cooperatives involved in media and communications, maritime, education and training, consultancy and restoration. Based in Valletta, it aims to be accessible to all cooperatives from any sector and to be a proactive channel through which members can thrive together to serve their markets. By emulating good practice in other countries, the federation will build on the successes of its current members.

“The founding members believe that the flexibility and resilience of the cooperative is a valuable alternative business model for Malta,” Mr Micallef Attard, an experienced professional long involved in local cooperatives, added.

“Until now, this aspect has not been given the importance it deserves. The federation is keen to work to put the cooperative model on the national agenda. Bound by a set of globally recognised principles and values, cooperatives contribute to a fairer distribution of wealth, and provide an opportunity of self-help to people willing to work to achieve their dreams by synergising with others. The emphasis of cooperatives is on the individual rather than on his or her financial outlay, which makes cooperatives a socially beneficial business option geared at satisfying peoples’ needs and aspirations.”

The federation plans to represent its members at local and international forums, provide services to members and potential start-up co-operatives like training and consultancy, and coordinate networking opportunities in Malta and overseas.

It also aims to provide an open forum for its members where ideas for best practice are discussed.

“The federation will be working with all cooperatives to establish ways in which cooperative principles and values can be of benefit to their individual members which, in turn, will be able to provide excellent products and services to the clients they set out to serve,” Mr Micallef Attard said.

The cooperative has come under the spotlight all over the world this year as 2012 celebrated the International Year of Cooperatives. More than 100 million people work in cooperatives around the globe.

There are around 60 cooperatives in Malta, with more than 5,000 members operating in sectors including agriculture and fisheries, transport and media, management and marketing consultancy services, wholesale, health, maritime, archaeology, restoration, fair trade, tourism, youth services and community care.

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