Cooperative stories from around the world – CEA, cooperating in Lebanon to guaranty jobs in Italy

“Internationalizing means networking. And for someone like me, who grew up on bread and cooperation on the hills of the Emilia Romagna, sharing knowledge and expertise with people in developing countries is something absolutely natural”.


 Giuseppe Salomoni, is not a missionary or volunteering for an NGO, he is the president of Cooperativa Edile Appenini (CEA), a housing cooperative, which, only in Italy, employs 356 people and has an annual turnover of 50 million euro, about seventy members and operates throughout the peninsula from Alto Adige to Sicily.  CEA works in Lebanon to spread the Italian cooperative model. “This means two things: firstly, being a cooperative we are part of the profit sector, therefore when we go abroad we want to do business. But being cooperators we do not believe that putting profit first is the best strategy. We want to put our roots in the territory and that is typical of how cooperatives work. And that characterizes our way of doing business us in a very competitive global market”.


 The Lebanon project aims at the reconstruction and upgrading of the water supply and wastewater collection in the area of ​​Jbeil, in the north of the country. The project, funded by the Italian Development Cooperation (Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) for a total amount of 30 million euro, will be completed in two years and will benefit more than 50 thousand people living in the area.


 “We offer assistance in the start-up and give life to small local cooperatives so that they can grow and then devote to the maintenance of what have been build. Our cooperators owns an important technical know-how and we share it by creating new cooperators who can develop themselves. “   This is precisely the ratio underlying the new Italian law on development cooperation: promoting the exchange of techniques and create synergies between the profit sector and NGOs in developing countries.


 “We export cooperative values by creating local coops rooted in the territory. We try to develop the place where we go, but without leaving the Italian market back. In a time of crisis like the one we are experiencing, especially in our industry, internationalization provide a turnover that allows us to maintain our members’ jobs in Italy. This is real cooperation”.


 What would you say to the president of a cooperative that, like yours, has a highly specialized and technical know-how that could share with people in developing countries? How would convince him/she to explore new cultures and markets?


 “I would tell him/her to recapture the original spirit of cooperation, what I call the folly of cooperation: launching your heart first over each obstacle. Because then, with the right partnerships, the head, torso and legs will follow it and the whole body will be found on the other side”. In short, that folly is nothing if not a little boost to your courage.

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