Regional trainings of Youth Ambassadors to promote cooperative entrepreneurship

10 Dec 2019

On the week of 25 November, 3 regional trainings of youth ambassadors took place in the framework of the Global Cooperative Entrepreneurs (GCE) program, an activity implemented under the ICA-EU partnership #coops4dev?.

What is the Global Cooperative Entrepreneurs (GCE) program?

The GCE is an experimental mentoring program aiming at providing support to youth ambassadors interested in setting up a cooperative. The program is built on a 3-steps methodology designed to mobilize youth to solve community needs by setting up cooperatives. Framed within the ICA-EU Partnership (#coops4dev?), the GCE is inspired by Cooperatives Europe’s CoopStarter 2.0 Erasmus+ funded project. The GCE mentoring program is implemented via innovative partnerships between cooperative organizations and youth organizations in 8 countries, namely, Colombia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sweden and Poland.

What happened in the week of 25 November?

From 25-28 November, 2 regional trainings took place simultaneously in Kampala (Uganda) and Kozhikode (India), and from 28-29 November a regional training took place in Bogota (Colombia). The trainings were respectively organized by the ICA regional offices ICA Africa, ICA Asia and Pacific and Coop Americas and hosted by the Uganda Cooperative Alliance, the Uralungal Labor Contract Co-operative Society (ULCCS) and Impact Hub Bogota.

Emphasizing local ownership, the sessions were facilitated by the GCE mentors themselves, with support from the ICA regional offices. Many of the training material and methodology from the CoopStarter 2.0. were used, but the mentors and the regional offices also developed new additional content.

After attending the intensive training sessions, youth ambassadors could understand what the GCE program entails (including the roles and responsibilities of youth ambassadors and mentors), develop a shared vision of the program and acquired knowledge of what a cooperative is (including its values and principles). They were also introduced to innovative thinking and problem-solving processes and learned how to share skills and work together as being part of the GCE program.

The youth ambassadors and mentors also had the opportunity to test the ‘Knowledge Base’, a new open-source software developed by Cooperatives Europe in the framework of the ICA-EU Partnership #coops4dev?. This new technology will enable users (like cooperative mentors and youth organizations that support young cooperative entrepreneurship) to index information and resources linked to cooperatives in a standardized way. The software is already developed and is currently in its final testing phase: the first ones to benefit from this new tool are CoopStarter 2.0 project and the GCE program.

Thus, participants of the GCE regional trainings have learned how to use the ‘Knowledge Base’ to search for resources and to connect/be a part of a global cooperative community of mentors and youth ambassadors.

The training of European youth ambassadors (Cooperatives Europe) will take place in Stockholm, Sweden, from 20-22 January 2020.

What is next?

After the regional trainings, youth ambassadors will be supported by GCE mentors, experts from cooperative associations and youth organizations, in a 6-month mentoring program. They will get access to online and offline learning opportunities to build new networks and to create new positive change for their community.

Youth ambassadors will go on to mobilize youth around their cooperative start-up idea by planning and organizing three events with the support of the mentors. At the end of the program, youth ambassadors will have had a chance to realize their cooperative business idea. They will also strengthen their network of like-minded youth across the world.

bassadeurs auront eu l'occasion de réaliser leur idée d'entreprise coopérative. Ils renforceront également leur réseau entre jeunes ayant des idées similaires à travers le monde.