The 22@ district of Barcelona is a neighborhood filled with tech and art spaces, breathtakingly beautiful murals, and stirring graffiti. With its high ceilings and enormous windows, the Valkiria hub, where we met on a hot morning yesterday, exuded an alternative industrial vibe. It is here that Suara, Catalonia’s largest worker cooperative, and the PCC co-hosted a symposium to explore how platform cooperatives could contribute to the autonomous region’s social economy. This event drew a notable group of policymakers, startup founders, and academics. There was considerable enthusiasm about platform coops’ potential to help reshape the economy. La Zona (Catalonia’s answer to Amazon), Som Mobilitat (a cooperative e-car sharing business with an 80-vehicle fleet), Mensakas (a fierce and magnificent food delivery collective and CoopCycle partner), Salus Coop (an emerging data cooperative in the health sector), and Katuma (a terrific local organization that uses Open Food Network software to “support the development of ethical supply chains that bring together producers in a ‘virtual farmers’ market‘”) were among those who presented.
The talk by Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of Social Economy Europe, was one of the event’s highlights. He emphasized that rampant inflation has resulted in high structural unemployment and a loss of purchasing power for families. Pedreño underscored the externalities of platform capitalism as well as the increasing shift of work toward urban centers. He commented that the cooperative model has a promising future in the digital economy; the government should view this sector as an example of how business can be done in a way that is not just about making money but also about making a difference. He reminded us that social businesses already represent more than 8% of the GDP in Europe. To grow, he argued, they must become more visible, gain political clout, and better access to funding. In this regard, Pedreño acknowledged references to platform cooperatives in ILO and OECD reports.
Read the rest on the Platform Cooperative Consortium blog
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