International Year of Co-operatives 2012

The United Nations has designated 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives. From Argentina to Zambia, the 1.4 million co-operatives across the globe will be celebrating and showing how they build a better world.

Global female co-operative leader, Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, says the International Year is the perfect opportunity chance to tell the world about co-operatives. “The movement is stretching right across the globe. United Nations figures show that the 300 largest cooperatives are worth $1.6 trillion USD, they are part of a sustainable and hugely democratic future.”

Successful female co-operative entrepreneurs, Johanna Mctiernan from The Handmade Bakery and Becky John from whomadeyorpants? are members of a thriving co-operative sector that believes in an alternative business model. Share their story, and thoughts on the global campaign; the UN 2012 International Year of Co-operatives.

Johanna Mctiernan longed for a change in direction before becoming a member-owner of The Handmade Bakery in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire “I had long been feeling that the media wasn’t quite suited to me and craved for something that felt more meaningful and essential to life”. Johanna waved goodbye to press releases and formed a co-operative. Johanna along with co-bakers create organic, locally sourced bread; selling to her local community.
“We decided on a co-operative structure because we wanted more people to join us but we weren’t interested in managing them. We wanted to share the ups and downs in an equal setting and believed that whoever joined us would feel more ownership of the project in a flat democratic structure”

Today, the community artisan bakery empowers Joahnna and co-bakers, with the same sense of meaning and purpose. “It is the sharing of the ideas, the responsibility, and the difficulties, the victories that make running a co-operative so interesting and so rewarding.” Johanna wholly supports the global campaign, thye 2012 UN International Year of Co-operatives. “There’s been a real sense of being a part of a wider community of co-operatives in the last year and I’m sure that will only increase with the International Year of Co-operatives. As a small business it is great to feel that connection and it gives us a real confidence boost to know that we are a part of a worldwide movement to improve the way businesses operate.”


Becky John, founder and Chair of whomadeyourpants? deems 2012 a prime opportunity for social change. ‘The International Year of Co-operatives 2012 will be a great opportunity to show that business can be a really positive force in society. Too often business gets a bad reputation but it can be a real engine for social change, done the right way. Here’s to more good business in 2012 and beyond! Becky John, whomadeyourpants?

The ethical co-operative lingerie brand based in Southampton, champion two things – amazing pants, and amazing women.
Knowing that there was a huge refugee population in Southampton, and suspecting that many of the women within it were isolated and not feeling able to go and have fun, Becky started wondering if these women might like a job making lovely pants that would have a ‘who made my pants’ sticker on.

Today, whomadeyourpants? empowers women and provides the consumer with detailed knowledge of where exactly their pants came from. Find out which colour pants are their favourite, about their children, and which country they are from – people power make the perfect pants!


What is a co-operative …. and why you should join the3rdimagazine by MD Karen Birch

A co-operative is a proper business. It is worth stating again. A co-operative is a proper business established to make profits, like any other business.  In launching the3rdi magazine as a co-operative I have been surprised at the ignorance and misunderstanding that surrounds the co-operative business model. So while I generally dislike defining things in terms of what they are not, it is worth dispelling a few myths.

  • co-operative are not charities
  • co-operatives are not social enterprises
  • are not just supermakets or undertakers

From the outside a co-operative looks like any other business. it is what’s on the inside that makes the difference!

Co-operatives are OWNED by their members and exist to serve their members.
The members are the owners, each having an equal say in how the business operates.
As well as getting the products and services they need members help shape the decisions that the co-operative takes.
Co-operatives aim to trade profitably – they make profits!
Co-operatives share the profits amongst their members rather than rewarding outside investors.
Co-operatives are not beholden to anybody, whether that is governments, investors or another business.
Co-operatives collaborate with each other and have a committment to the community they serve.

Across the UK co-operatives are owned by 11 MILLION PEOPLE – and this number is growing!
There are 4,800 independant co-operatives working in all parts of the economy – from healthcare to wind farms, from football clubs to web design companies.

So I hope that it is now clear why we chose this model for the3rdi magazine limited.

  • the3rdi magazine limited is a co-operative, member owned business
  •  it exists to serve the community of women
  •  we collaborate with women across all sectors of the business community
  •  we are beholden to no-one; content being drawn from the community
  • we are indeperndent, inspiring and informative

Membership is the lifeblood: you OWN the business. We rely on your support to develop the programmes to support women leaders, promote issues of women’s confidence and self-esteem and develop positive networking wiothin the community

We believe that everyone who is involved in the co-operative should have a real say in how the business develops and the co-operative business model ensures that everyone has an equal say

We believe that the business has to trade profitably in order to survive in the long term and that these profits should not go to anonymous investors but should be shared amongst the members.

So now you know! The3rdi Magazine Limited is an independant co-operative business that I am proud to have founded and that welcomes you as a member.

For more information, click here

For more information on the UN 2012 International Year of Co-operatives visit

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