International Cooperative Development: A proven business model for economic opportunity and stability through public-private partnerships.

By Paul Hazen, Executive Director, US Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC). This article was originally published as a letter to introduce the incoming Trump Administration to the ongoing work and achievements of its members. “One of our strengths that should catch the attention of the new Administration is our focus on public-private partnerships to cost-effectively achieve sustainable international development results,” says Paul Hazen. For more than 150 years, the cooperative business model has been a dynamic private-sector engine for economic opportunity and stability around the world. Here are five reasons why cooperatives can, and should, continue to play a crucial role in U.S. foreign policy.

Jobs and broad-based U.S. support: 120 million Americans can’t be wrong. They’re members of U.S.-based cooperatives, which generate 2.1 million jobs and $65 billion in annual revenue (with the help of public-private partnerships).

Connection to markets, services: 5.8 million cooperative members can’t be wrong. These are the members of cooperatives established with the know-how and expertise of the eight member organizations of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC).

Investment not “give-away”: International cooperative development is sustainable. This private-sector solution combines concern for community with a business discipline. It brings people together through democratically governed businesses to meet their mutual needs. And it fosters self-reliance. Cooperative development also:

Cost-effective: The cooperative model encourages innovative, effective (and cost effective) solutions.

U.S. values, global progress: Economic stability fosters political stability. When people have jobs, can feed their children, find adequate health care and experience an overall better life, communities, countries and the world become more stable.

Cooperative development: An objective of U.S. foreign assistance through MCC, USAID, USDA and others. The cooperative system has played a significant role in the development of the U.S. economy. In the U.S., our cooperative systems received assistance from extension agencies, government programs that made capital available to cooperative systems, and farmers associations working together to create cooperatives. This type of public-private partnership led to cooperative networks that have achieved size and scale and continue to benefit of millions of Americans. OCDC already has demonstrated that similar methods can yield big results internationally. We are prepared to take cooperative development to the next level to foster local prosperity and bring economic stability to regions throughout the world.

About OCDC: OCDC brings together organizations committed to building a more prosperous world through cooperatives. Its mission is to champion, advocate and promote effective and sustainable international cooperative development. OCDC’s members are: Equal Exchange, Frontier Coop, GENEX, Global Communities, HealthPartners, Land O’Lakes Venture37, NCBA CLUSA, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the World Council of Credit Unions.