Cooperatives reach out to Ukraine
by Steven Johnson, Staff Writer
The Sixth Cooperative Principle is Cooperation among Cooperatives. It knows no borders, and that has never been truer than during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Donations from cooperative associations around the world have poured in to help the immediate and ongoing needs of Ukrainian cooperators. The U.S.-based Cooperative Development Foundation has been providing support to COOP Ukraine and the Polodian Regional Development Agency, two organizations in the country, to help those in need.
As of April, CDF had raised nearly $170,000 from U.S. co-ops. COOP Ukraine arranges for accommodations and meals for internally displaced Ukrainians. The hostels of cooperative educational institutions and homes of cooperators, when possible, are being used to house internally displaced Ukrainians, organizers say.
COOP Ukraine has also joined the government’s relocation program to move businesses and enterprises from combat zones to safer regions. PARD is providing support to two shelters in Vinnytsia and coordinating first-aid training with the Vinnytsia Regional Center for Emergency Aid. The goal is to provide assistance to two additional shelters located on college campuses.
In order for cooperative stores to function, we need to change logistics, suppliers, look for alternative suppliers, provide security for our employees and much more,” says Illia Gorokhovskyi, chair of COOP Ukraine’s Board of Directors told CDF. “The most important thing now is saving people’s lives.”
The Canadian Cooperative Development Foundation has raised funds to support more than 2,000 women living in the Kyiv, Kharkov and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts.
Cooperatives are a vital part of the Ukrainian economy, having created some 200,000 jobs. The country has nearly half-a-million cooperative members across all industries — about 15,000 trade enterprises, 3,000 restaurant facilities and more than 300 markets.
“Despite the fact that there is a war and people are dying, cooperation works and tries to fulfill its social functions,” says Iryna Lopushanska, head of international affairs at COOP Ukraine.