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Lecture on Cooperative Association Business

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

On Friday 26th July one of our Next Generation Leaders Forum’s (NGLF) Foreign Students World Reporters group’s representatives and the NGLF’s representative and our group’s mentor himself, Mr Sungchul Kim, attended together the first out of many interesting special lectures our group has decided to visit in order to learn as much as we can and share the knowledge with our fellows foreign students studying in South Korea. The special lecture in question was a lecture on cooperative associations.

The three-hour lecture was held in the Samgyeong Education Center, located right next to the Seoul Station and organized by Seoul Co-op Support Center. Ms Kayeon Ju, an enthusiastic, eloquent and most importantly experienced representative of the Ddabok Community Support Center was chosen as the lecturer. From the very beginning of the lecture, it was clear to all of the attendants that her lecture was based on years of experience in consulting those involved in cooperative association businesses.

The lecture was divided into three main parts – first, understanding the basic concept of cooperative associations, second, founding of cooperative associations and, finally, instructions for successful management of cooperative associations. Even though the attendants, our Foreign Students World Reporter’s representative included, came with different levels of prior knowledge about the cooperative associations, their establishment and management, our lecturer for the day introduced the basic concept to us in a very skillful and at the same time not difficult to understand, yet professional way. By presenting relatable and easy to remember real-life examples, a complete beginner, as well as a veteran in the field could find themselves ready to comfortably dive in more deeply into the matter.

Our lecturer’s zeal to educate was easily spread throughout the lecture room and less than 30 minutes into the lecture, Ms Ju had already successfully managed to engage the listeners and encourage them to suggest their own point of view on the concept of cooperative association. As we have quickly learned, a cooperative association (also known as just “cooperative” or “co-operative”, “co-op”, “coop”) is "an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise". Or, as our lecturer managed to simplify it in one sentence – “an enterprise changing a (personal) need into business”.

What followed after “busting the myths” and grasping the understanding of the main concept was a brief historical overview of the development of cooperatives from their early days of official establishment in England, following up all the way to and especially highlighting their place in present-day South Korea. However, what she mostly emphasised was the legislative difference in the purpose behind starting a profit, non-profit and cooperative associations and their inner structure.

The part which our lecturer was most committed to explaining well, on the other hand, was first and as she claims definitely most important out of 8 steps necessary to establish and register one’s own cooperative business in South Korea. By presenting various examples she has come across during her career, she helped us comprehend the different types of cooperatives in order to be able to choose the type that suits one’s idea most appropriately, since in the first step – gathering of initiators – having the right mindset, right goal and choosing the right people is crucial and the base of all that is to follow after. To illustrate more clearly, more than one and a half hour of the three-hour lecture was dedicated to this step, also in an interactive manner where the attendants freely posed relevant questions during the explanation. The explanation also included positive and negative sides of each type of cooperative since, as our lecturer concluded – choosing the right type of the cooperative is the “alpha and omega” of cooperative associations.

The final 30 minutes of the lecture were saved for going through the other 7 steps of the process – writing up the articles of the association, gathering the establishers and the establishers’ first meeting, obtaining permission for establishing, eradication of clerical work and transfer of the investment money, and finally after having completed all the necessary steps and having gathered all the necessary documents, the registration itself as the last step of the process

Unfortunately, due to utmost detailed explanation of the crucial parts of the establishing process, there was no time left for the third part of the lecture – running the business after the establishment. However, even though some might criticize the lecturer for poor time management, if we suppose that the main goal of the lecture was to give advice and explanation on whether and how to start a cooperative association, the target was undoubtedly reached. The stepping stone is always the most difficult one and the most important one – those who successfully establish such business, could, as our lecturer offered, always contact her for further advice and consultation. The lecture was concluded with presenting the following video, showing a modern twist to a well-known story about the race between the rabbit and the turtle, stressing more than anything the importance of teamwork in everything we do.

To sum up, the bottom line impressions of our NGLF Foreign Students World Reporters representative were that the lecture was useful, however, very concrete and mostly aimed at those who already have some experience or a preconceived idea about starting such business in that mind. Since our representative came with an open mind and ready to learn about something new, the lecture was helpful, yet maybe still a bit too specific and specialized for our needs. Nevertheless, thanks to this lecture, new knowledge was gained and a spark of inspiration for possible new future projects was lit. Finally, in case any of our fellow foreign students in South Korea or colleagues all over the world either have experience in working in a cooperative or have an idea of starting one that they would like to share with us, please do not hesitate to contact us. Furthermore, in case you are interested to learn more about it or receive professional consultation, feel free to contact the Seoul Co-op Support Center or Ddabok Community Support Center directly by clicking on the links located below.

A special package of informative materials our Reporters Group received from the organizers

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