Forward Together Podcast

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Summary

The Mondragon federation of co-operatives has been the foundation of the economy in Spain's Basque country for decades. It was founded back in 1956 by a priest - José María Arizmendiarrieta - who believed that the best response to the hostility and neglect of the region by the fascist dictator Franco was to develop co-operatives that relied on mutual self-help and independence.

Today there are 96 co-operatives which are members of the federation, employing more than 81,000 people. The federation includes manufacturing businesses, financial institutions, retailers and its own university - which operates as a knowledge, research and development centre for the group. Mondragon is the largest business operation in the Basque region and one of the ten largest commercial organisations in Spain.

Show Notes

The Mondragon federation of co-operatives has been the foundation of the economy in Spain's Basque country for decades. It was founded back in 1956 by a priest - José María Arizmendiarrieta  - who believed that the best response to the hostility and neglect of the region by the fascist dictator Franco was to develop co-operatives that relied on mutual self-help and independence. 

Today there are 96 co-operatives which are members of the federation, employing more than 81,000 people. The federation includes manufacturing businesses, financial institutions, retailers and its own university - which operates as a knowledge, research and development centre for the group. Mondragon is the largest business operation in the Basque region and one of the ten largest commercial organisations in Spain. 

There are similarities and differences between the Basque region and Northern Ireland. It is the similarities that have led many people over the years to ask if the Mondragon example could inspire a comparable movement here. The positive experience of credit unions - financial co-operatives - in Northern Ireland provides hope that it might. 

In the latest Holywell Trust podcast, Fred Freundlich, a professor at Mondragon University, discusses what can be learnt from Mondragon and whether its success can be replicated. The interview can be heard here. It is one of a series of conversations about what can be learnt from best practice in community and economic development elsewhere. 

The Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts are funded by the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant Scheme.    
 

What is Forward Together Podcast?

Gerard Deane and Paul Gosling host a series of interviews with the objective of promoting a wider, more inclusive and engaged conversation about how we make progress and further solidify peace and create a genuinely shared and integrated society in Northern Ireland. Holywell Trust is curating a discussion that is mutually respectful, forward focused and positive. The podcast considers the real challenges that Northern Ireland's society faces in the coming years and begins to arrive at practical and honest approaches to address these.