Setting up a new business can be daunting, especially during the bleakness of a recession, a squeeze on public funding, and when entering a pretty crowded market place. For me, the key to the whole process was to be able to articulate clearly the values and principles I stand for, so that potential clients, customers and partners know what they were getting from me, and why.
The “C” in SCiP5 stands for Co-operation and Collaboration. At its most superficial and obvious level, any community needs to work together to achieve agreed goals and targets. For me, however, co-operation goes far deeper than that.
I have been appalled at the damage done by free market “triumphalism” throughout the course of human history. Unrestrained capitalism and “free enterprise” has given us the slave trade, the East India Company (exploiting the wealth of an entire continent for hundreds of years), HSBC (I believe set up originally to launder the money gained from selling opium to the Chinese), an unacceptable societal gap between the richest and the poorest (which continues to grow!), and yet another banking collapse and world recession that appears to be eclipsing the Great Depression of the thirties. The dead hand of communism has done little to rock my boat either!
And yet, a world movement has quietly grown, from humble beginnings in the nineteenth century, that is based on a set of values and principles that work at the micro and macro levels without modification or re-interpretation: at the micro-level, you can live your day-to-day existence comfortably within the parameters; at the macro level, you can turn over a trillion dollar business using exactly the same values set. Welcome to the world of co-operation.
Use the word “co-op”, and you will probably think immediately of supermarkets, chemists and getting buried! But what if I said that there are 1 billion cooperative members world-wide; that, in 2008, the world’s top 300 co-operatives had total revenues of $1.6 trillion; and that co-operative academies and co-operative trust schools have grown in number to over 400, making them the fastest-growing academy “chain” in England?!
I embrace willingly and passionately the values that underpin co-operative working:
Encouraging all within an organisation or community to help each other, by working together to gain mutual benefits. Helping people to help themselves.
To take responsibility for, and answer to, our actions
To give our stakeholders a say in the way we run our school, our community or our business
Equal rights and benefits according to their contribution
Being fair and unbiased
Supporting each other and those in other co-operatives.
Consistent with the values of the founders of the Co-operative Movement, I believe in the ethical values of:
- Social responsibility
- Caring for others
I like to be enterprising: but I like moral limits in the market place. I see nothing wrong with making profit, so long as it is ethically sound, it supports fair trading, and that excessive profit doesn’t cause excessive loss to someone (down the production chain) or something (like the planet). And I feel strongly that our global future depends on young people emerging from an education process that prepares them for more enlightened times.
You have to start somewhere… even at 55!