Learning system updated on project website

You are welcome to learn more about the online Conventus – Learning system for cooperatives under blog heading “Learning system”. First, we introduce the learning system in general, and sub pages include material introductions and access guidelines in English, Finnish, Swedish, Icelandic, Polish and Italian. We hope you find a lot of useful content on our pages and learning environment.


Picture from final event of the Conventus project



Conventus Final Seminar revisited

Final seminar participants

The participants in the Conventus closing seminar

The Conventus – Learning system for cooperatives project was rounded off with a final seminar in Helsinki. Project participants and invited guests presented the main outcomes within the framework of learning for cooperative enterprises.

Here are presentations from some of the presenters:

  1. What is Conventus learning system? (Eila Seppänen)
  2. Finnish cooperative act (Sami Karhu)
  3. Gap analysis (Emil Karlsson)
  4. Cooperative WordArt (Bøδvar Bjørgvinsson)
  5. Group processes (Kristina Berneholm and Maria Henriksson)
  6. Conventus as a supplement (Adam Piechowski)
  7. Conventus ICT approach in Trento (Elena Badeanschi)
  8. To whom and why (Jarmo Hänninen)
Swedish cooperative members

Members from Swedish cooperatives were present too

Final Seminar

The European partnership of the Conventus – Learning system for cooperatives project will present the main outcomes within the framework of learning for cooperative enterprises in a final seminar on 27thSeptember 2013. We warmly welcome you to join the event in Helsinki, Finland.

The seminar has twofold aims to1. Raise awareness among policy makers and cooperative systems about the needs of specific cooperative training; 2. Provide information on concrete learning materials and tools produced and tested within the project.

The seminar will focus on the main results of the project, experiences and exploitation of Conventus learning system. There are also cooperative case examples presented and summary of the gap analysis concerning project countries.

Seminar programme, Friday 27th September 2013

9.30-9.45   hrs. Opening words

Mr. Pekka Pättiniemi, Chairman of the Board, Coop Finland Association

9.45-10.15  hrs. What is the Conventus learning system?

Project Manager Eila Seppänen, Kemi-Tornio University of Applied Science, Finland

10.15–10.45 hrs. Finnish cooperation, new Cooperative Act and how learning supports cooperatives

Mr. Sami Karhu,  Pellervo  Confederation of Finnish Cooperatives


Coffee & refreshment


11.15–14.00 hrs. Gap analysis – different countries, different starting points for cooperatives

Emil B. Karlsson, Bifröst University, Iceland

Co-operative WordArt – an Icelandic pilot case

Mr Bodvar Bjorgvinsson, Iceland

Group process in building a cooperative – experiences of web-tools and reflections from pilot groups

Kristina Berneholm and Maria Henriksson, Coompanion Skaraborg, Sweden

Conventus learning system as a supplement to the existing cooperative education and training model in Poland and a contribution to solving some of the cooperative movement’s problems

Adam Piechowski, National Cooperative Council, Poland

The value added by the Conventus learning system to the traditional learning system used within cooperative movement in the region of Trento  – ICT approach

Elena Badeanschi, Trentino Federation of Cooperation, Italy

To whom and why – how to exploit Conventus learning system?

Jarmo Hänninen, Coop Finland Association


14.00-14.10      Closing words

Mr. Pekka Pättiniemi, Chairman of the Board, Coop Finland Association

The seminar is aimed at

  • Representatives of European cooperatives systems and organizations, trainers, cooperative members,
  • LLP Grundtvig representatives, national LLP representatives,
  • DG industry & enterprises,
  • ICT experts,
  • VET, partners’ organisation representatives,
  • educational organisations and business support organisations.

Information about registration

The Poland Workshop, Cooperatives Visited

During the Conventus meeting in Warsaw, the participants had opportunities to meet some local cooperative societies. They represented various size, age and type of activity.

  1. Społem” Warsaw-Center Consumers’ Cooperative („Społem” Warszawska Spółdzielnia Spożywców Śródmieście)

Społem” WSS Śródmieście, founded in 1869, is one of the oldest, still operating, cooperative societies in Poland and the first consumers’ coop. Established according to the Rochdale model as “Consumer Society Merkury”, soon after it had been founded, the coop opened its first grocery shop on Nowy Świat street in the center of Warsaw. In following years next shops were appearing, Merkury became also a pattern for establishing similar coops in other Polish towns. After several changes, reconstructions and transformations, the cooperative survived two world wars, the years of communism, when cooperative movement was totally subordinated to the state, and was able to overcome all the difficulties that were threatening its further existence. It operates now as a modern retail enterprise based on the involvement of its members. It owns at present a chain of 24 retail outlets in the city center, including two big department stores. The cooperative cares in particular about good services and high quality of products – among them certified organic food and cooperative products. It also conducts several activities regarding preservation of natural environment, as well as social, educational and cultural initiatives addressed to the community, in particular youth and elder people, members, employees and retired employees. It supports as well new cooperative phenomena as social cooperatives.

The participants from Conventus met Mrs. Anna Tylkowska, the President of the cooperative, in the office of SEZAM Department Store on May 27th . Mrs. Tylkowska talked about the history of the cooperative, its present activities and the plans for the future, among others on the total reconstruction of SEZAM. She stressed the role of cooperative training courses for the cooperative employees and members conducted by cooperative organizations as National Cooperative Council or National Auditing Union of Consumers Cooperatives “Społem”. At the end of the visit the participants had opportunity to see the department store and make some shopping. They were impressed by the number and quality of the products made by various cooperatives (dairy coops, cooperative bakeries etc.) labeled with special logo.


Społem” Warszawska Spółdzielnia Spożywców Śródmieście

ul. Nowy Świat 53, 00-042 Warszawa

e-mail: sekretariat@wss.spolem.org.pl


  1. Husbandry and Agricultural Cooperative “Dawidy” (Hodowlano-Rolnicza Spółdzielnia “Dawidy”)

Husbandry and Agricultural Cooperative „Dawidy”, located in Dawidy in the neighbourhood of Warsaw (about 20 km from the city centre) was established originally in Warsaw in 1959 as Husbandry and Agricultural Cooperative “Mink”, and was involved in industrial husbandry of furry animals (mainly minks), rabbits, pigs, chickens and ducks. It also exported rabbits and frogs and started some fruit and vegetables processing. The cooperative, because of ecological reasons, was moved soon out of the city limits, to Dawidy, its present headquarters. In the 70-ies the cooperative invested in constructing modern greenhouses of total area of 4 hectares. During next decades, when “Dawidy” had to withdraw from less profitable kinds of production, this became the main cooperative’s activity. Today it is one of the leading in Poland wholesale suppliers of ornamental plants and seedlings (potted, for balconies, gardens etc., both from own floriculture and imported from the Netherland and tropical countries). Several products are exported, the cooperative also has own retail outlet. As supplementary activity, potatoes and cereals are grown on 80 hectares of the own fields; the tourist attraction are the cooperative’s fish ponds that give the opportunity for fishing.

The participants from Conventus visited the “Dawidy” cooperative headquarters on May 28th. They met the President Mr. Tomasz Kowalski who made a presentation on his cooperative’s history and present. He stressed the fact that all “Dawidy” members are employees of the cooperative, most of them are descendants of its founders or their family members what contributes – together with touchable financial effects of their work – to strong involvement in the cooperative’s co-management and to building tough links among them. Mr. Kowalski also talked on training, cultural and social care (the coop conducts own clinic) for the members and their families. The meeting was completed by a tour guided by Mr. Kowalski across “Dawidy” premises. The participants admired in particular the greenhouse with hundreds of beautiful plants and flowers.

After the meeting in “Dawidy” the participants made a visit to neighbour Żelazowa Wola, the birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin. They saw the small museum, the manor house where the great Polish composer was born and admired the beautiful park surrounding the manor.


Hodowlano-Rolnicza Spółdzielnia “Dawidy”

02-800 Warszawa 93, Dawidy




  1. Stary Mokotów” Social Cooperative (Spółdzielnia Socjalna “Stary Mokotów”)

The sector of social cooperatives is a totally new sector in Polish cooperative movement. Such coops, being established under the special Bill on Social Cooperatives of 2006, are designed as a tool to create employment opportunities for the persons excluded from the labour market, may enjoy some financial support from Labour Offices and fiscal reliefs, and in general correspond to Italian “type B” social coops. One of them is “Stary Mokotów” Social Cooperative, founded in 2011 in the frameworks of a project “OSS” of promoting social coops in Warsaw region, conducted by the National Cooperative Council, financed from the European Social Fund. The founders were a group of young unemployed people fascinated by cooperative ideas as well as by vegetarianism and fair trade concepts. Originally they intended to conduct a web portal and an e-shop with organic and fair trade food products. However, as these operations did not bring satisfactory business results, they decided do involve in catering activity. Being vegetarians, they promoted non-meet menus. Among their clients there are mainly NGOs that organize training courses and conferences and need catering for the participants. The cooperative is planning to rent a premise to conduct a bar for the employees of an office center where it will also be able to prepare its dishes: sandwiches, salads etc. to be delivered to other offices and the catering for NGOs. “Stary Mokotów” coop at present has 5 members, but it is going to admit some new ones. It employs one person on full time and two on part time. The coop also plans to apply for a subvention from the labour office for financing a new work place.

The participants from Conventus could become acquainted in person with “Stary Mokotów” activity, as the coop prepared all luncheons served them during 3 days of the meetings in Warsaw. They tasted the excellent vegetarian food combining Polish traditional kitchen with modern trends of organic food. On may 27th they also met the President and main founder of the coop Mr. Zbyszek Modrzewski, who talked about his way to establish the cooperative, about its present activity and plans for the future. He stressed the importance of the training courses conducted by the National Cooperative Council for the persons who intended to organize social coops in the frameworks of the “OSS” project, as well of its further support activities and supplementary trainings concerning social coops managing. He also discussed with the participants about the opportunities to establish contacts with similar coops from other countries, to exchange recipes, products etc.


Stary-Mokotow.pl on Facebook



The 2020 Vision, a Blueprint

The year 2012 marked not the end of the world, but it may have represented a turning point in cooperative development and growth. 2012 as we all know was the United Nations Year of the Cooperative. The International Cooperative Association has released a Blueprint to make the present decade one of confident growth for the international cooperative movement.

The major priorities in this decade will be to make far more people aware of the co-operative form of enterprise, to provide aspiring cooperative members with the tools and back-up to establish, fund and develop sustainable co-operatives, and to reduce obstacles to that endeavour.

The message to the world at large is that cooperatives present a way of doing business which is better and brings a more effective balance to the global economy than the dominant single model that we see in the world today.

Read the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade HERE.


Team Iceland has launched a pilot project on testing parts of the prospective Conventus learning model for cooperatives. Compared to other Conventus partners, Iceland is in a somewhat unique position which has historical references to the meltdown of the Icelandic Cooperative Movement in the late 1980s. Today, only 31 cooperatives exist in Iceland and in general, the knowledge of the cooperative form is rather weak and cooperative attitudes tend to be somewhat negative, especially among those people who remember the ‘old movement.’

However, it may be assumed that younger people may be more open-minded towards the values and principles of the cooperative form and, in addition, the situation in Iceland after the economic recession is calling for more democracy, sustainability and more social responsibility among companies and enterprises. Therefore, there is a need in Iceland for increased awareness towards the cooperative form, active cooperatives are scarce and there are clearly opportunities for the cooperative business form in Iceland at the moment.

Therefore, the purpose of this pilot project is to establish a programme for prospective cooperators. The pilot target group consists of job seekers who have suffered long-term unemployment. This project is established in cooperation with the Innovation Centre Iceland and The Directorate of Labour in Iceland.

The aim of this project is to assist job seekers to establish cooperatives. The assistance includes a teaching programme, coaching and consultancy. The project started with an orientation period in November, where prospective participants where invited to an introductory meeting. Following that meeting, a short teaching period commenced which included the history and ideology of the cooperative movement, where participants were made aware of the speciality and the uniqueness of the cooperative form and did a brainstorming workshop on forming ideas of prospective cooperative enterprises.

As part of the project, participants will form their own groups and work on project ideas, develop business plans for prospective cooperatives, work on marketing strategies, finances, accounting, management and strategy and other practical issues in establishing a cooperative. The teaching period will commence in January and end at the end of April 2013.

Skaraborg meeting and testing session

The Conventus project has moved into the development of the learning system which combines material from the SKILLS project with new material into five training modules. At the project meeting at the Coompanion office in Skaraborg, Sweden, some of the material was tested.

Meeting at Coompanion

A shot of the meeting room at the Coompanion office in Skaraborg

Testing session

The testing of the learning material in Moodle was partly led via an iLinc internet connection with Tornio.

Testing session

The testing session also comprised a demonstration of the four-field group analysis method.

The attendees, which included cooperative members from different European countries also went on different study visits to various cooperatives in the Skaraborg region. The visit to SkaraborgsAssistans even made the local paper!

Presentation at SkaraborgsAssistans

SkaraborgsAssistans is a user cooperative where persons entitled to personal assistance are members and have one vote. Skaraborgsassistans have aproximately 50 members and about 300 employees with a turnover of 80 million SEK (aprox 10 million Euro)

SkaraborgsAssistans became the Cooperative of the Year in Skaraborg 2009. The prize is awarded by Coompanion business advice to groups that want to realize their ideas together. The motivation was as follows:

SkaraborgsAssistans demonstrates the potential of doing business in which human benefits are a priority and where integrity, freedom of choice and self-determination are a matter of course. SkaraborgsAssistans shows that cooperative companies increase people’s opportunities to participate in work and in decision making.

Götene Företagskooperativ was another cooperative that was visited. It is a social cooperative located in the small town of Götene. Götene has a population of about 13000 and you will find it in the south-west of Sweden on the southern shore of lake Vänern near the nature reserve of Kinnekulle.

Inside Götene Företahskooperativ's main facility

The cooperative has about 20 members and the areas of activity of the cooperative are mainly in building log houses and other building work. They are about to open up a B&B during 2013. They can also hold lectures about social cooperatives and supervising. Their vision for the future is to open a dog daycare center, a greenhouse and a strawberry plantation.

Götene Företagskooperativ became the Cooperative of the Year in Skaraborg 2012. The motivation was as follows: Götene Företagskooperativ runs a commercial establishment in a harmony with social values where everyone has a common arena and where everyone’s knowledge and experiences are important. A concept where the weak win the force through joint engagement in their idea under the basic principle that there shall be a place for all people in a company, that everyone is needed.

The cooperative LeraMedmera is a handicraft cooperative formed by a number of individual artisans working with clay and ceramics. They have joint marketing and share the costs of their venue which is located on the former Rörstrand Factory area in Lidköping. The cooperative is also working on assignments for other artists who want to produce their work in a larger edition.

The presentation at Lera med mera

The cooperative is relatively newly started and is building up their business in their gallery.

Finally, the social cooperative Bruk för Alla is something you never think you would find in a small place like Falköping Sweden. But there is a place, a cooperative that helps people, who are or have been unemployed for long periods of time, or they have some dysfunction that they have acquired or are born with. Bruk för Alla cooperative gives hope back to people, people whom society has discarded. Bruk för Alla thinks that everyone can do and wants to do something with their lives. Everyone is important!

Bruk för Alla gives people ways to be productive, be a part of the society. It has been running since 1995 for the good cause. They do almost everything. The  Bruk för Alla cooperative has jobs in ICT and different kinds of manufacture (handmade items like decorations, furniture etc.). Many people could learn a lot from them and everyone would know that they can do something.

At art atelier Löfwings

A demonstration at Löfwings atelier.

The Conventus project partners participating in the meeting expressed their satisfaction with the meeting and the project progresses.

May we present ourselves: Götene Företagskooperativ

Götene Företagskooperativ is located in the small town of Götene. Götene has a population of about 13000 and you will find it in the south-west of Sweden on the southern shore of lake Vänern near the nature reserve of Kinnekulle.

Our cooperative has about 20 members and the areas of activity of our cooperative are, at the moment, mainly in building log houses and other building work and we are about to open up a B&B. We also hold lectures about social cooperatives and supervising.

Our vision for the future is to open a dog daycare, a greenhouse and a strawberry plantation.

You can visit us on our website: gfkoop.se, or find us on Facebook. Some pictures can be found in our slide presentation.

May we present ourselves: Urban Flow

Urban Flow LogoUrban Flow is a consultancy and service cooperative set up in Tornio, Finland,by students of Kemi-Tornio University of Applied Sciences. The cooperative has 14 members who each have their own area of expertise. Urban Flow offers diverse services to other enterprises, such as efficiency and product development services, event planning and graphic design for company branding.

Members of Urban Flow in a business meeting

Members of Urban Flow in a business meeting

May we present ourselves: Laxen

The social cooperative Laxen is located in the municipality of Gullspång in South-Central Sweden. The town of Gullspång borders on lake Vänern and has a population of about 1200.

Laxen takes its name from the salmon that travel upriver past Gullspång each spring. A salmon stair allows the fish to reach its spawning area.

The cooperative has 29 members but employs more people than just the cooperators. The areas of activity of the cooperative are in tourist information, gardening and forestry as well as handicrafts. The cooperative also offers light transport services and operates a second hand store.

They present themselves in the attached slides.