Meet the candidates for the presidency of the International Co-operative Alliance: Eudes de Freitas Aquino

04 Nov 2015


Visit Eudes de Freitas Aquino's candidature website


Q: Dr Aquino, please tell us about the ways in which your background in healthcare can be an asset for the Alliance and the movement. 

Cooperativism has been a part of my personal, professional and social life for more than 30 years. I've identified with its philosophy, principles and values and studied it, mirroring in cooperative leaders, and I've been working on it relentlessly. 

 Since 1982, I've been associated to Unimed. In few months, I became involved in the cooperative management, being one of the founders of the Intra-Federative Federation of Unimed Centro Paulista (in the countryside of São Paulo), being its president for two terms, a period when the Confederation was restructuring the cooperative model of Unimed in the São Paulo State, with the creation of the Intra-Federative Federations. I was the mentor of this restructuration that created local Federations to facilitate the management and consolidation of local projects, aiming service sharing. 

In 2005, I became the president of the Unimeds Federation of the State of São Paulo (Fesp) with a more modern vision of cooperativism, transforming the institution into a second class cooperative that fostered this business model. In 2009, I became president of Unimed do Brasil, Confederation that for exactly 40 years is institutionally responsible for the Unimed System - the biggest medical cooperative in the world, leader in the health insurance market in Brazil, with 110 thousand cooperative doctors and 20 million clients. 

Now, I've set a work program to practice in global level what we do in Brazil. This program is concerned about moving the structural of International Cooperative Alliance, stimulating cooperatives participation, and proposes a Great Charter of the Cooperativism, that reinforces the development and sustainability interests of the cooperative company. 

The proposals of this program will be detailed to confirm what I consider fundamental: the Alliance’s identity in global level. The dialogue with governments, universities, social and finance entities would help to develop Alliance actions and improve its role in regard of international scenery. 

Q: Dr Aquino, what is your take on the future of the movement, in the short term and the long term?

First of all, is urgent necessary to work in the promotion of the global public recognition of cooperativism as a force in the economic and social development of a region and improvement in the Human Development Index (HDI). A good way to exalt the cooperative identity is providing strategic consultancy to those wishing to create new cooperatives in regional level. It's important disseminate and invest in the strengthening of the COOP brand worldwide in international organization, government, society, academic and press levels. 

In Unimed, we strongly think about that, trying to unify our brand with a Brand Center and guidelines for Communication and Social Media. Maybe this would be the reason that places Unimed as the 21st most valuable brand in Brazil (only behind finance institutions) - 10 years ago, Unimed ranked as the 32nd - and for the 24th following year Top of Mind brand of health insurance in Brazil. Unimed also has increased its market share, that keeps bigger than the other Brazilian HMOs. 

This only be possible if we work in a cooperative governance of our different branchs all over the world. At Unimed, we've been elaborating strategic instruments for a more professional management cooperatives. One of them is the Cooperative Governance Manual of the Unimed System with the purpose of adapting the corporative governance rules to cooperativism, without the commercial bias, such that all the cooperatives have the same management model, considering all cooperative branchs. 

As well, we have to take a different look at sustainability, in its three scopes: environmental, social and economic. At Unimed, we have the Sustainability Award, that evaluates what our cooperatives are doing to improve its management. 

In inter-cooperation area, I think that one of the great differentials of Unimed, the Exchange, is a good example. This tool helps the client to receive service all over the country, even though client of a single cooperative, through the contractual conditions. More than 8 million clients use Exchange in Brazil. 

Thinking about employment, under my management, Unimed also created the Competency-Based Human Resource Management. A hundred Unimed cooperatives already implemented this model. 

Q: Dr Aquino, could you please explain the key points in your elections program?

Besides to improve the cooperativism identity, it's necessary to increase the participation in cooperativism, defining orientations and guides of good cooperative governance practices, respecting individualism, regionalism, culture and sector of the economy to which it belongs. In Unimed, have a Brand Center and guidelines for Communication and Social Media that we share with our 351 cooperatives all over Brazil. 

We also have to think about legal frameworks, by drafting of a Great Charter of the Cooperativism that reinforces the development and sustainability interests of the cooperative company. In Brazil, I participated of the creation of Cooperative Parliamentary Front in Brazilian government, that joins about 15% of the members of Parliament. 

In terms of capital, we need to generate possibilities of financing the cooperatives around the world, seeking resources in fomentation institutes, as well United Nations and other entities. 

My program also includes actions to dynamize organizational structure of ICA, promoting dynamism to its actions with focus on practical measures of development and effective results and, also, being closer to the projects developed by the regional offices, accompanying them more assertively and providing technical consultancy to the works. In Unimed, for example, there are job divisions in the different classes of cooperatives, with the support of the Confederation (Unimed do Brasil). Cooperatives of first class count on the participation of cooperatives of second class. 

Talking about governance, I intend to institute standard models for cooperatives worldwide, respecting the individuality of all sectors. 

Referring to inter-cooperation initiatives, my focus is in technical assistance. ICA also must encourages and promotes commercial trade between cooperatives of different sector, as well as Brazilian Cooperatives Organization (OCB) does in our country. Here, we create a website that intends to near the cooperatives for trade negotiations. 

My program also inputs sustainability steps (including environmental, social and economic scopes), gender equality and inclusion of children and the youth, cooperative education and influence, and the improvement of employment worldwide. 

Q: Dr Aquino, can co-ops in healthcare be of particular significance given that the world’s population is ageing?

Of course. The healthcare cooperatives play an important role in this issue. But we believe that they must change the way we deliver our service, prioritizing the primary healthcare assistance, focusing on prevention instead of a model based on disease treatment.