Spirit and Knowledge: The Key to a Coop’s Success


solidarityMr Sebastian Chaillou is a representative of France’s co-operative, Solidarité étudiante. He was also one of the key speakers during the summit and a judge for the pitching sessions.

To him, a co-op is merely a more democratic way to run a business, because of the equal rights given to members. Thus, he feels that if a democratic system can be put in place to run people, it can be done to businesses as well. Hence, Mr. Chaillou feels a business can function democratically, similar to co-ops, but only if it is first able to manage its economic and social factors.

“If the youths want to go into a business, they must be able to understand and adopt a proper business model, and not just build a business and sell it quick.” said Mr Chaillou.

This supports his belief that a good idea can bring much value to many people, but that value can only be delivered if the youths have the appropriate knowledge on the model of their business. To Mr Chaillou, if the newborn cooperatives are unclear on their business model’s functions, global companies can stand to threaten their sustainability.

If troubling times arise, and the survivability of a cooperative is threatened, the possibility of shutting down can become worrisome to the co-op’s members. However, Mr Chaillou does not feel that co-operatives should quit when faced with adversities. He reckons that co-op members should hold their values close, and persevere on. Despite this, Mr. Chaillou also thinks that if the time calls for it, co-ops should be allowed to close down, but they must be able to grasp the next opportunity that comes along, and get back up. To him, this can be done so long as the members understand their decision making processes and the efficiency of their capital’s utilization.

Hence, Mr Chaillou encourages youths to persevere in their endeavours towards setting up co-operatives, for he believes that it is for a good cause, and can go towards benefitting different communities. While challenges will always pop up, he believes that cooperation and partnerships between co-operatives is the key to overcoming these challenges, and hence hopes that the cooperative values of self and mutual help would be exercised by youths.


IMG_6689Shawn Hoh

Diploma in Business and Social Enterprise, Year 2, Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Ngee Ann Polytechnic Consumer Co-operative Society