A special collaboration from the team of the Quebec Council of Cooperation and Mutuality (CQCM)
Cooperation, an added value in the development of entrepreneurial projects
Any entrepreneur wishing to start a business will be faced with the question of the preferred legal form: joint stock company, NPO, cooperative, etc. In school entrepreneurship, this question is posed differently. However, it can have an impact on the experience of young people.
The cooperative entrepreneurship project brings added value to the projects carried out in class. The approach used is based on cooperative pedagogy. This aims at learning and acquiring social, intellectual and cognitive skills. It is based on cooperative values, in particular care, solidarity, equality and fairness. The development of the individual and of a well-being that promotes living together are at the center of the cooperative entrepreneurial process. Thus, the transversal competence "cooperate" and the general field of training "living together and citizenship" of the Quebec school training program (PFÉQ) are implemented in the entrepreneurial project.
Concretely, the cooperative youth entrepreneurship offers a process of taking charge of the project which is inspired by the functioning of a cooperative. The students form a board of directors responsible for making democratic decisions according to the fundamental cooperative principle 1 member = 1 vote. In fact, cooperative entrepreneurship offers an opportunity for citizenship education by creating a place for experimentation with democratic principles.
Committees are also formed to engage all students. Some will be able to put their creativity to work in the marketing committee, others will prefer to experiment with accounting, still others will be responsible for production or human resources. Young people will thus have meaningful experiences allowing them to explore their interests, skills, values and needs.
During the different stages of the project, the methods employed promote the equitable participation of everyone. To this end, work in a cooperative group is privileged. It differs from traditional teamwork, since it offers a more structured framework and planned interactions. In addition, it values equal participation and positive interdependence.
Tools and resources to support the implementation of cooperative entrepreneurial projects
The Youth Entrepreneurship service of the Quebec Council of Cooperation and Mutuality offers free educational guides available online to support teachers wishing to carry out an entrepreneurial project. These guides offer a three-step process: training in the values of cooperation and the acquisition of skills for cooperative teamwork, an initiation into cooperative entrepreneurship and experimentation in the cooperative enterprise. The guides have been developed in particular in collaboration with teachers in order to meet the real needs of schools.
In addition, agents for the promotion of cooperative youth entrepreneurship (APECJ) are available to provide free support. For example, a partnership with Idée Éducation Entrepreneuriale around the Quebec Entrepreneurial Community School (ECE) project allows, in this perspective, a continual contribution from the APECJs. They can, among other things, train managers in the stages of carrying out a project and in the use of tools, offer specialist advice and lead Young COOP workshops. The support offered by APECJ adapts to the needs, duration and nature of the project. the ÉduCOOP scholarship program offers groups carrying out a cooperative project a support allowance of 100$ to 1000$, depending on the group's educational level.