In this section, we are going to give you some advices to create your own permacultural cooperative.
WHAT IS A COOPERATIVE?
A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their mutual economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise organized and operated on co-operative principles. An agricultural co-operative is a co-operative that produces processes or markets agricultural products and supplies agricultural inputs and services to its members. Agricultural co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
WHAT IS A MIX COOPERATIVE?
We do not want just to grow fruits or vegetables; we aim to grow respectful communities along Europe. In the framework of PERMIND project, we are encouraging the creation of mix cooperatives that could mix the social point of view with the farming perspective, in order to create an agricultural but also a social cooperative.
WHY SET UP A COOPERATIVE?
Sometimes it is difficult to handle and commercialize your products once you finish the work in the garden. Creating a cooperative can be a great way to make this work smoother and even get more benefits. You are stronger when you join efforts with other people.
Some reasons to establish a cooperative:
- The procedures to register a Cooperative is usually free.
- Cooperatives normally pay less tax than an ordinary company does.
- European countries use to offer grants and advantages to cooperatives.
- The cooperatives promote stable and lasting employment.
- The basic philosophy of cooperatives is mutual help. Cooperatives help instill moral values among members for a better living. It promotes the spirit of tolerance, cooperation, and self-help.
- The members of the cooperative have full control of it, they choose democratically their representatives.
- Shareholders, directors, and employees have no responsibility for the debts of the cooperative unless those debts are caused by negligence or fraudulent activities. The liability of the members is limited to the extent of their investment in the cooperative.
Creating a permacultural cooperative is a great way to spread the use of permaculture to other farmers. We can invite to our cooperative local small producers already working under the principals of ecological agriculture and give them the tools to engage in the permacultural world. In addition, we can interact with local social organizations, offering training and/or job opportunities not only to people with mental issues but also to also any kind of vulnerable people.
HOW TO FORM A COOPERATIVE?
- You have to establish a steering committee. You need to have a group of people who represent the cooperative’s potential members. Identify your mission and core values. Develop a plan and a timetable for researching and developing the organization.
- You have to identify interested members and invite them to an informative meeting to test out the level of interest in the co-op idea. Introduce the permacultural concept to your members, as well as the “mix” concept that take into account farming and social issues. The aims of your cooperative must be very clear and must be understandable for all the potential members.
- You also need to identify the needs of the cooperative members. You also need to carry out a feasibility study: Examine critical opportunities and obstacles that might make or break the formation of the organization. Consider the usual challenges like market issues, operating costs and availability of financing. In some cases, local or state governments may provide financial and technical assistance in conducting a feasibility study.
- You need to draft articles of incorporation. All cooperatives have to be incorporated under the appropriate state statute. Select a legal counsel to draft or review the articles of incorporation and bylaws. Make sure to specifically describe the kind and scope of the organization’s business. Your cooperative can start out with very basic bylaws and just refine them after developing the business plan.
- You have to create a business plan and recruit more members. Prepare a detailed business plan that will serve as a blueprint for the development and initial operation of the organization and as supporting documentation for members, financial institutions and investors. A typical business plan includes an executive summary, description of the company, market analysis, product research and development, marketing and sales plan, organizational structure, and financial data.
- You have to secure financing. Whatever your cooperative aims to do and whoever the members are, it’s likely to require money to allow the business to function and grow. This cash injection can come from a variety of sources. Most of the time members invest some of their own money. Many cooperatives apply for a business loan while some may be eligible for start-up grants. The amount of capital needed to get up and running varies. The amount and type of financing needed by the co-op and the means to get it should be included in the business plan.
- Filling the documents required by your local/national administration.
The new institutional framework for Social and Solidarity Economy (Law 4430/2016, Government Gazette 205 / Α / 31-10-2016) and the applied Ministerial Decision 61621 / Δ5.2643 / 30-12-2016 (GG), regulate the scope of the social economy and the role of the State in Greece regarding Social Cooperatives
Types of Social Cooperative Enterprises:
- Social Cooperative Integration, which are divided into two subcategories:
- Social Cooperative Integration of Vulnerable Groups, which seek to incorporate people from vulnerable social groups into economic and social life. A minimum of 30% of the members and employees of these businesses belong mandatory in these categories.
- Social Cooperative Integration of Vulnerable Groups, which seek to incorporate people from special groups into economic and social life. A minimum of 50% of the members and employees of these enterprises belong mandatory in these categories.
- Social Cooperatives of Limited Liability of article 12 of Law 2716/1999, (considered to be rightfully Social Cooperative Enterprises of Integration.).
- The Social Cooperative Enterprise Collective and Social Benefit, which develop “sustainable development” activities and / or provide “social services of general interest”.
Steps for creating a Social Business / Cooperative:
Establishment procedures concern registration in the General Register of Social and Solidarity Economics Bodies. The founding process is simple and is described in detail in U. S. 61621 / S5 / 2643 / 30-12-2016 (Government Gazette 56 / B / 2017).
- Submission of an application attached with the Statute and additional documents (described and varying according to the category of the Organization) by editing a certificate of registration.
- Starting tasks at the competent Public Economic Service. Specially, regard to the establishment of Employee Cooperatives, insurance of members is required (as self-employed).
- With the registration certificate and beginning of operations, the company can start a commercial activity.
The Registry Department is responsible for the maintenance and function of the General Register of Social and Interactive Organizations. It is the competent Administrative Authority, a department of the Ministry of Environment and Water, for the control of the setting of Social Cooperative Enterprises and Employees’ Cooperatives, the legality of their actions which is recorded in the General Register and their supervision. In addition, it is responsible for assigning the status of the Agent to legal entities that fulfill the requirements for their registration in the Special Register. The address of the website, from which you can learn a lot of information and contact with the Department, is www.ypakp.gr (Social Economy Registry) (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
According to the Slovenian Cooperative Society Act, a co-operative needs to be set up by three founders. The founders may be persons or legal entities. The founders of a cooperative must be capable of doing business.
The cooperative is established by adopting the founding act. The founding act contains:
- The names and addresses or seats of the founders.
- The decision on the adoption of cooperative rules
- The decision on the election of the bodies of the cooperative which it was obliged to elect in accordance with the law of the state
- Date and place of the founding General Assembly
- Signatures of all founders.
A co-operative rule is a compulsory element of the act establishing the cooperative. Co-operative rules should govern in particular:
- Firm and headquarters of the cooperative.
- Cooperative activity, Special conditions for reception.
- Termination period initial and special conditions for leaving the cooperative.
- Reasons why a member can be excluded from the cooperative.
- The share subscribed by each member (obligatory share), and the number of taxpayers who are entitled to the funds.
- The deadline and the method of payment for one-half of the obligatory share.
- Other obligations relating to cooperation, including the conditions to be adopted; 9. Liability of members for commitments,
- The basis for the allocation of the surplus and for the settlement of operating losses.
- A reference to the decision on the general assembly, which is a common assembly consisting of representatives, as well as election, recall and term, for.
- Work area, election, recall and term of office of the president in other bodies of the cooperative.
- Representation and representation of a cooperative.
- Informing members about the decisions of the municipal assembly in business confidentiality.
- The method of the division of assets remaining after the repayment of creditors in the return of shares in liquidation or bankruptcy proceeding, or the purpose of that property, if it is not distributed among members.
By entering the act on establishment into a court register, the cooperative acquires legal and business capacity. Under the terms and conditions laid down in the cooperative rules, a incorporated cooperative may become a natural or legal person.
More detailed conditions for the establishment of an SCE established in Slovenia, as set out in Regulation 1435/2003 / EC, in the Cooperatives Act.
- Application for negative certification of denomination (It is requested in the Register of Cooperative Societies that is the competent body to issue certifications about the existence or not of registered entities with the same denomination as another that is intended to be constituted)
- Preparation of the Bylaws by which the cooperative will be governed. The Statutes are the rules made by the promoters of the cooperative, in the right of autonomous will, respecting the current regulations.
As a minimum, the following points should be stated.
- The name of the Company.
- Company purpose.
- The address.
- The scope of action.
- The life of the company.
- The minimum social capital.
- The minimum obligatory contribution to the social capital to be a member, form and deadlines for disbursement and the criteria to set the mandatory contribution that the new members who join the cooperative will have to make.
- The way of accrediting the contributions to the social capital.
- Accrual or not of interest for mandatory contributions to the social capital.
- The classes of members, requirements for admission and voluntary or mandatory withdrawal and applicable regime.
- Rights and duties of society.
- Right to disburse the contributions of the partners, as well as the transmission regime of the same.
- Rules of social discipline, classification of faults and penalties, sanctioning procedure, and loss of membership status.
- Composition of the Governing Board, number of directors and period of duration in the respective position. Likewise, determination of the number and period of action of the controllers and, where appropriate, of the members of the Resources Committee.
- In each specific case, the requirements imposed by the Law must be included for the kind of cooperatives in question.
- Prior Qualification (Once the statutes have been drawn up, prior to their elevation to public deed, the promoters can request from the Register of Cooperative Societies their prior qualification, to see if they comply with the provisions of the cooperative legislation, for which, together with the corresponding request must provide in duplicate the full text of the draft statutes).
- All the promoters, that is to say all the founding partners of the projected company, must grant the Public Deed of constitution and, it will be expressed:
- The identity of the grantors of the deed.
- Manifestation of these that they meet the necessary requirements to be partners.
- The willingness of the partners to establish a cooperative society and class in question.
- Accreditation by the founders of having subscribed the minimum obligatory contribution to the share capital to be a member and having paid it, at least, in the proportionally required proportion.
- If any, value assigned to the non-monetary contributions, stating their registry data if they exist, with details of those made by the different promoters.
- Accreditation by the grantors that the total amount of the disbursed contributions is not less than the minimum capital stock established by the Bylaws.
- Identification of people, that once registered the society, have to occupy the different positions of the first Governing Council, the controller or auditors and declaration that they are not involved in cause of disability or any prohibition to perform them established in this or another Law.
- Declaration that there is no other entity with the same denomination, for which purpose the opportune certification issued by the Register of Cooperative Societies will be presented to the notary.
- The statutes.
- In addition, the public deed can include all the covenants and conditions that the promoters consider convenient, provided that they do not oppose the laws, nor contradict the configurating principles of the cooperative society.
- Application for registration of the company in the Register of Cooperative Societies.
- It can be carried out by all the promoters, the President and the Secretary of the Governing Body of the Company, or those who have been appointed for that purpose in the public deed of incorporation. Along with the application, an authorized copy and a simple copy of the aforementioned public deed must be submitted, as well as the receipt of Tax of property transfer and Stamp Duty.
- The maximum period is one month from the granting of the aforementioned public deed, if more than six months pass, a public instrument of ratification of this deed of constitution must be accompanied.
In Sweden, there are four different types of cooperatives:
– Citizen Cooperative: just as it sounds, the members/owners of a community cooperative are those who live in a specific area. It can be about jointly owning a general store, a school or a health center.
– Personnel Cooperative: there are many different types of personnel cooperatives. Preschools are run many times as personnel cooperatives. But there are also communication agencies, architectural offices and other activities in the service sector owned by the staff.
– Producer Cooperatives: is an association of producers within a certain sector. The members of a producer cooperative sell to the cooperative.
– Small business owners in collaboration: sharing premises, marketing together and taking business together are examples of business collaboration. It is a smart way to both develop and grow as a company. Equality and influence are important keys in corporate collaboration – just as in cooperative entrepreneurship.
– Social companies: in the social cooperative, joint responsibility has a rehabilitative function. Many social enterprises are run in cooperative form.
To get started a cooperative of producers, you need to be three people. In order to create a cooperative, you need to share values and views on what you want to do and what the goal of the business is. These views are contained in the statute, which has to show almost this information:
1 Company’s name
3 The seat of the board
7 Board of Directors
9 Mandate times
10 Financial year
11 Place and notice of the general meeting, announcements
12 Cases at the Annual General Meeting
13 Basis of profit distribution
14 Retained assets upon dissolution
15 Termination, resignation.
To start a cooperative, you have to register it by the Bolagsverket. That’s could be done online at https://www.verksamt.se/.
In the following links you will find information about how to create a cooperative in Greece and some examples of cooperatives
In the following link it is possible to download all the forms that need to be completed:
In addition, in each Autonomous Community it is possible that other requirements have to be met, as it will be possible to find out in the following links:
For those who are interested in starting a cooperative, Coompanion offers an advisory service on behalf of the national authority for economic growth. Coompanion is located in 25 cities all over Sweden.
- Core Flower, Transition Centre Social Cooperative
The Social Cooperative Enterprise CORE FLOWER center transition is oriented towards sustainability of households, businesses and communities, by localizing the coverage of Fundamental Human Needs and addressing Climate Change.
Morale principles: We take care of Planet, of Human, of Future
Specifically, the purposes of the Cooperative regard to sustainable development are specialized in the following activities:
- Developing technology that reduces energy consumption from fossil fuels.
- Construction and maintenance of infrastructure for renewable energy in democratic co-operation with local communities.
- Developing skills and transferring expertise.
- Design and release of innovative and free digital products and services or any form of technology that promotes peer and based on common production.
They run the project Permaculture School. The management of Permaculture School is horizontal and transparent. They use Sociocracy, Non Violent Communication, Open Space, Way of council and other inclusive and productive techniques. There are 4 main work groups, they call them circles: Trainers, Media production, Communication, Management
Read more: http://coreflower.eu
Established in 2016, by ŠENT and I. Poropat and S. Klemenčič, in order to create a cooperative to facilitate employment in the nort-east of Slovenia. The cooperative relies on the existing knowledge available to employment center CEOs and is sustained by the efforts of its daughter employment centers. The cooperative currently has 4 institutional members, has just completed a project and established a new employment center.
- ECOHERENCIA – SEMBRANDO RESILIENZA
It is a cooperative based in Madrid, Jerez de la Frontera and Málaga, that works for social innovation and for the building of resilience through the proposal of projects aimed at involving common people in the searching of concrete solutions to improve their environment. Some of their fields of work are: Permaculture, Restoring of Ecosystems, Education and Awareness, Research and Investigations.
Read more: https://www.ecoherencia.es/
- COOPERATIVA MAZETAS
It is a cooperative based in Seville that promotes sustainable habitat. It has received a European Prize “For youth employment in the Social Economy”, a prize that aims at encouraging exemplary entrepreneurial initiatives taken by young people and capable of creating employment for the young. Created in July 2007 by three young people, the purpose of Mazetas is to develop projects for building and managing sustainable residential and public accommodation, with a methodology involving the drawing of building projects, documentation, coaching and training. The principles upon which they base their work are Bio-building, Permaculture, Efficient Resources and Wastes Management.
Read more: https://www.facebook.com/mAzetas/about
- PEOPLE-CARE SUDERBYN:
Suderbyn is a local international hub for transitions, sustainable development and permaculture based on Gotland. It’s an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, which was just appointed to be a pilot region for the new Energy Transition of Sweden.
They are an intentional community with about 25 activists from a dozen of countries, working and living together. It’s a pilot site since 10 years, working with a holistic approach for a regenerative society.
They grow part of their food in their garden designed according to the Permaculture principles, they develop eco-building projects, maintain car- and bicycle-pools, develop their own energy production. They combine simple country-side living with ecological innovations and experimental ideas.
From the Suderbyn office, they are engaged in a number of different projects spanning a range of organisations. Such projects link them to other eco-villages in regional and international networks, international volunteer schemes such as the European Voluntary Service (EVS) and Service Civil International (SCI), as well as other projects with a focus on sustainability and environmentalism.
The cooperative is concerned with:
-developing the Suderbyn property so as to become an example of sustainable and organic lifestyle
-renting rooms to residents -responsibility for upkeep and maintenance of Suderbyn bicycle- and car-pools
-management and responsibility for Suderbyn’s property
Read more: http://www.suderbyn.se
- KOSTERS TRÄDGÅRDARNA:
In the north of Bohuslän lies Koster Islands in Sweden’s first Marine National Park and here the Koster Gardens have been built up since the beginning of the XX century as a family business. The business has as a whole grown and 2015 started the Kostas Gardens cooperative in parallel with the original company, as a way to make more involved in the Garden restaurant and bakery business.
With inspiration from permaculture they have planned the area of about 8 hectares, which was originally an old fishing homestead. The intensive garden area is about 1 hectare in size. The association’s purpose is to promote the financial interests of its members by conducting restaurant and event activities inspired by permaculture. The business will serve as a platform and catalyst to create an economically, ecologically and socially sustainable society. The Association safeguards the Cooperative principles, promotes the exchange of knowledge and sees the importance of the Members ‘ involvement in the whole process from the viewpoint to action.
They produce their own vegetables and sell them in their boutique and use them to prepare the food sold in their restaurant.