Cooperative businesses, in which employees collectively own the company’s resources and vote democratically on how to use them, are set to become a dominant business model in the 21st century, say international business experts. Already, half of Germany’s renewable energy is owned by cooperatives, and in the developing world, “cooperatives often function as building blocks for stronger, more stable economies.” Coffee grower cooperatives in Ethiopia and credit unions in Kenya are providing stability to citizens in otherwise shaky economies.
What’s the Big Idea?
Cooperatives are more than hippy grocery stores. In the US alone, 93 million credit union member-owners control $920 billion in assets. The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives with the goal of signing more people up to be members of businesses that benefit their local community. Dr. Joni Carley, a values-driven leadership expert, says “that when personal and organizational values are aligned, profits, share prices, stakeholder loyalty, innovation, and more go up.” How close do you live to a cooperative? Are you a member?
This is a tale of two drones. One is the stuff of crazy science fiction. The other is a reality. Now here’s the twist: individuals are making DIY drones a reality while large government-sponsored researchers are the ones writing the science fiction.