Less than half of the young people in Finland can define cooperative as a company

The biggest challenge for the cooperative movement is that the business model is not sufficiently known. At the request of Pellervo Coop Center, Kantar TNS surveyed the attitudes of Finns aged 18-30 towards cooperatives and collaborative entrepreneurship. It turned out that only 41% of young people identify a cooperative as a company. One in four thinks it is an association and one in five bets on a foundation. However, respondents to the survey were largely positive about cooperatives when they were informed about them.

-The result is not surprising, but it gives reason for concern. Cooperation is precisely the kind of economic form that is now being called for in the debate on the breakdown of capitalism. It brings meaningfulness because this business model is a great opportunity to contribute to big challenges, such as tackling climate change or a more even distribution of well-being. It would be worthwhile for young people to get to know this way of influencing, says Sami Karhu, Managing Director of Pellervo Coop Center.

A cooperative or a mutual insurance company is a form of enterprise in which a successful business is a means for achieving wider benefits. Ownership is evenly distributed and is governed by the rules of democracy. The accumulated profits will therefore remain in the area of operation and will be circulated locally as decided by the members.

Kantar’s study found that only one in ten young people associate cooperatives with some form of economic collaboration. Still, four out of five respondents in the survey knew when asked that they were members of a cooperative – the most mentioned were consumer cooperative (61%), cooperative bank (43%) and mutual insurance company (20%).

Nearly half were of the opinion that cooperatives can contribute to sustainable development and the quality of their living environment. One third is also interested in influencing, i.e. joining the management of these companies.

Collaborative entrepreneurship interests as a form of business

The survey also asked about the interest in starting a business: Less than half (44%) of young Finns are interested in starting one together with someone, while only a third (31%) are interested in sole proprietorship.

The greatest interest is among men aged 18-24, and especially in lower secondary school level. There, up to three out of four boys are interested in collaborative entrepreneurship. Southern and Western Finland also stand out in terms of enthusiasts.

For just under one third of respondents, a cooperative could be an option, for every fourth it would not. Working together, lower risks and the importance of sustainability became the main reasons for a positive response. Young women value risk-sharing the most, while for men sustainability was a main reason for considering a cooperative.

– We must work strongly to ensure that cooperatives are talked about to children and young people the same as limited companies. In primary schools, secondary schools as well as in universities. The business model offers a lot of opportunities, and its utilization should not be hindered by the lack of information, says Pellervo’s Sami Karhu as the main conclusion of the study. 

Finland is the most cooperative country in the world: we have as many as seven million memberships in cooperatives and mutual insurance companies, and a considerable number of adults are members of more than one cooperative. These had a combined turnover of more than EUR 33 billion last year and employed almost 100,000 people.

Cooperation means Finnish anchor ownership, the success of which greatly affects the success of the nation. We have strong cooperatives e.g. in trade, finance, food production, forestry and infrastructure services. Pellervo’s largest members include consumer cooperative SOK Corporation, mutual insurance company LocalTapiola, forest cooperative MetsäGroup and dairy cooperative Valio.

The study was released on Wednesday, April 14th, at Pellervo Day, the annual co-operative event. This year it was held as an online event.    

For further information please contact: Managing Director Sami Karhu, Pellervo Coop Center, sami.karhu@pellervo.fi


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