Maria Francisca Roncero Siles
Association of Friends of Supercoop (AAS: Spanish acronym for ‘Asociación de Amigxs de Supercoop’)
Sociedad Cooperativa Madrileña de Consumidores y Usuarios Supercoop (S. Coop. Mad.): https://supercoop.es/
The AAS was created to support the cooperative supermarket Supercoop, aiming to organise the voluntary work of its members and provide them with information about self-management, social economy, etc.
Our aim is to set up a network of voluntary work that can make the cooperative supermarket of Supercoop sustainable. For this purpose, we need to hire 2 experts so they can provide us with a governance model, based on the principles of cooperation, collaboration and participation, to assemble the community ecosystem, which is the basis of our project, and which is formed by the volunteers of the association, cooperative members, people living in the neighbourhood, producers, institutions, etc.
Community of Madrid (Spain): the Lavapiés quarter, Madrid (central area) and supplier network.
The Community of Madrid is burdened by serious economic and social inequalities, derived from an economical and urban planning model that disconnects its regions and citizens, creating gaps between the countryside and the city, and within the quarters in the city itself. Thus, we face three fundamental challenges:
-Make food and consumption a lever for societal cohesion and an economic driving force that can link the city with the surrounding rural areas
-Turn consumption -the daily action of consuming– into an instrument that can revitalize the neighbourhood of Lavapiés, severely affected by gentrification and the increasing isolation of urban life
-Include citizens’ participation into consumption processes, perceived as an economic activity, as well as a political and social activity
We believe that the response to the challenges set out is an ethical and democratic channel of consumption, designed and managed by consumers themselves to help make the economic, political and social implications of consumption visible -a field that could easily be described as a real ‘civic desert’ and we would not be exaggerating.
Supercoop is this channel, based on three fundamental pillars: an economic, a social and an environmental pillar. Our idea is mainly related with the second one. The AAS project for Supercoop consists in providing counselling and professional skills/capabilities to mobilise, organise participation and raise awareness among citizens and the public and private actors involved.
The beneficiaries of this Project are firstly, the 773 members of the AAS (and we keep growing), who are also the cooperative members of Supercoop.
The AAS Project for Supercoop is located in the quarter of Lavapiés (Madrid), with approximately 47,000 inhabitants, although members from other districts in Madrid also form part of it. The socio-economic status of Lavapiés is uneven (the average household income is 32 per cent lower than the average of the whole city) and over 26% of its population is formed by foreigners. The AAS Project for Supercoop will take into account these two variables, with an intercultural approach and measures to include people with low incomes in the project.
Other beneficiaries of this Project will be the supplier network (more than 65 suppliers to date).
With the aim to formulate the governance model for volunteer work in Supercoop, the AAS need to carry out the following actions:
-An inventory of the required activities and tasks for the cooperative.
-A map of the responsibilities associated with the required tasks.
-Assessment of the skills and knowledge of the members, including their interest and availability.
-Accompaniment and training during the volunteer work. Qualifications, specific training (hard skills) and personal development (soft skills: teamwork, interpersonal communication...).
-Dissemination of the Project among member, suppliers, neighbours and institutions.
In order to carry out these actions, we will follow a participatory methodology, via workshops, enabling volunteers to design their relationship with the AAS.
Over the coming year we intend to reinforce voluntary work in Supercoop to ensure the optimal functioning of the cooperative and members’ satisfaction, based on both their personal contribution to the project, as well as the economic and social roles that the supermarket and the association play.
We anticipate that organized voluntary work will help continue expanding the social basis of the cooperative and the association until we reach 2000 members - estimated number of members to ensure its sustainability.
In a year we expect volunteer work groups to acquire some level of autonomy, empowerment and capacity for self-management.
On the other hand, thanks to the governance model we are going to implement, we believe that confidence will grow and thus, the network of local suppliers.
In terms of consumption, Europe (especially in the context of the UE) has prioritised policies related to consumers’ protection, but not in terms of transparency and citizens’ participation in these policies. In addition, there is a shortage of policies and public funding to facilitate the creation of consumption cooperatives that can offer real alternatives vs. large-scale distribution. We believe this situation has led to generating passive consumers, who cannot understand the economic, ecological, social and political repercussions of their daily consumption actions.
Initiatives like ours contribute to citizens’ empowerment, to create visibility of the ecosystem formed by producers, distributors and consumers and also to gain access to quality, conscious and affordable goods.
Our main motivation is to count with new professional capabilities and skills that can help the AAS develop itself and create an appealing, exciting and useful value proposal for its current and potential members.
These capabilities should endorse the goal of our association: to create a network of people, who are eager to learn and work in new professional experiences in the field of responsible consumption, in a more innovative and democratic way; a network that is closely linked with the agents in social economy that ensure quality, affordable and sustainable consumption habits.
The purpose is to complete the team’s professional knowledge and skills with that of experts in training, in the field of volunteer management and the facilitation of working groups at the cooperative.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs (2 advisors in volunteer management and self-management governance structures): 44,500 EUR (including non-wage costs: social security charges, etc.).
Communication: 2,000 EUR
Office expenses (computer equipment and software licensing): 3,500€
We would like to receive suggestions to improve our Project, as well as information (and contacts, whenever possible) about similar initiatives in Europe that are involved in citizen participation and the governance of self-managed entities (preferably related to consumption and food).