BCCM CEO Visits MONDRAGON Corporation: A groundbreaking co-operative model

02 June 2024

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison recently visited the Mondragon Corporation in Spain, following the BCCM’s European Co-operative Housing Study Tour and the MVM promotion in the UK, highlighting the BCCM’s commitment to learning from global leaders in co-operative business models.

Exploring Mondragon Corporation

Mondragon Corporation, located in Spain’s Basque region, is a federation of worker co-operatives renowned for its innovative and inclusive business model. Melina described her visit as inspiring, noting the impressive scale and impact of Mondragon’s  operations. “The world’s largest worker-owned industrial business has almost 80,000 members who are also employees across 83 advanced engineering, manufacturing and technology companies,” she remarked. MONDRAGON’s influence is vast, with its products found in 30 per cent of cars, 90 per cent of aircraft and 60 per cent of trains globally. Additionally, the co-operative group also encompasses a bank, Spain’s fourth-largest grocery retailer, a university, dedicated R&D centres and a comprehensive social security system.

The secret to Mondragon’s success lies in its commitment to competitiveness and strong social focus. The co-operative prioritises steady employment and the economic and social well-being of its community, encapsulated in its motto, “humanity at work.” Melina expressed her gratitude to Ander Etxeberria, the director of cooperative education, for an insightful study tour and to Iñigo Albizuri Landazabal, the global head of public affairs, for their engaging discussions.

Insights from Mondragon University

During her visit, Melina also met with Ana Aguirre, the global youth president of the International Cooperative Alliance, at the business faculty of Mondragon University in Bilbao. Mondragon University stands out as a co-operative institution where lecturers, academic staff, students and faculties are members. This unique structure ensures that the university’s purpose and educational strategy are co-designed by its stakeholders, fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment.

Ana shared insights into the university’s groundbreaking business course in entrepreneurship, enterprise, and innovation. This program enables teams of students to learn about business through the practical experience of setting up their own enterprises, many of which are structured as cooperatives. Melina praised the innovative approach and expressed her appreciation for the inspiring tour provided by Ana.

Ana provided the closing keynote at the 2022 BCCM Leaders’ Summit, supported by BAL. Watch her keynote as she talks about relevance and inspiration – connecting with the next generation of co-operators.

Embracing co-operative innovation

Melina’s visit to the Mondragon Corporation and Mondragon University highlights the potential of co-operative business models in driving economic and social progress. The insights gained from this visit are poised to enrich the BCCM’s initiatives and reinforce its mission to promote cooperative principles globally. As Morrison aptly put it, the experience was a testament to the power of “humanity at work,” underscoring the transformative impact of cooperative enterprises.

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