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5 preconceived notions about our cooperative

Since our founding in 2011, we are regularly subject to a list of questions about how we operate, our governance or how we anticipate our growth.

Often unknown, sometimes misunderstood, cooperative societies have nevertheless been noticed for several years for their performance and dynamism. The latest report from the General Confederation of Cooperatives is clear: the 3,000 cooperatives listed in France represent a turnover of nearly 5 billion euros and a five-year survival rate of 67%, a result higher than the national average of 60.  

In this article, we will try to answer some of the questions received in order to prove that the cooperative sphere offers an effective alternative to traditional economic models.

You're a collective of freelancers, right?

Not at all. We are a self-managed company. This does not mean that we are an independent group.

We try to shake up traditional management patterns by involving all of our employees in our decision making. To ensure that information circulates throughout our 3 offices, we optimize our internal communication through several platforms (Slack, Google Hangouts, etc.) and for major decisions, we meet for a monthly review. During this meeting, we summarize the budgetary situation, the current recruitments, the internal evolutions, the projects, and when a decision must be acted, we organize a vote (in our case, 1 person = 1 vote).

If a disagreement arises during a meeting, we discuss it, argue it, and try to resolve the issue. When everyone has made up their minds, a vote is taken to confirm the decision.

Les Tilleuls… Do you work in the agricultural field?

Although our name can be confusing (I promise, one day we will explain its origin), we are a production cooperative operating in the field of computer development.

Today, there are several forms of cooperatives. We can mention as an example :

  • Users' cooperatives: the associates are the users of goods and services. These cooperatives are notably present in the food trade, schools, low-cost housing…
  • Cooperatives of enterprises: the associates are independent workers. Agricultural, craft, maritime or transport cooperatives are among them.
  • Employee cooperatives: the associate members are the employees.
  • Cooperative banks: the partners are the customers and members who receive payment services.

Among the most widespread sectors, the Scop's 2017 summary shows that the service sector represents more than 40% of cooperatives in France, followed by industry and education, health and social action. The agricultural cooperatives represent, them, 1.2%.

Cooperative companies are present in sectors as varied as lasers, robotics software, printing, selective sorting… Ditto for digital, as an example, Alma or Code4Corsica offer services similar to ours while Coopcycle has been shaking up foodtech for more than a year by proposing a software (built with API Platform <3) to connect customers, merchants and bike delivery cooperatives.

Your model works for now, but what happens when you reach 100?

Existing cooperatives with hundreds or thousands of employees prove that it is possible to run a company in this way.

Let's take the case of the Groupe Up . Founded in 1964, this group has 2,500 employees (including more than 600 associate employees) spread over 14 countries and generates a turnover of nearly 6 billion euros. Its governance is based on three poles: all the employee-members, the Board of Directors (elected every 4 years by the employees) and the Executive Committee. The employee-members (the only shareholders) participate each year in a general meeting where they debate and vote on the group's strategic orientations.

This may seem complex, but it makes their organization all the more fluid. The employee shareholders are mobilized to put into practice a 360° management approach where the commitment and involvement of all employees consolidate the foundations of a democratic company. This organization promotes the sustainability of jobs, resources and the solidity of the company. And it works: their annual reports and several publications prove that the Up group is a SCOP where it is good to work and profitable.

Cooperatives are the rescues of companies in difficulty

In 2017, 65% of cooperatives were creations ex nihilo and less than 5% of them were the result of rescues of struggling businesses. Moreover, two thirds of the cooperatives created between 2012 and 2017 are still active today. This promises many more good years at Les-Tilleuls.coop…

It's too utopian a model, it won't work

The cooperative model is a worldwide economic reality: there are more than 180,000 cooperatives in Europe and according to a UN survey, this form of economy represents 20% of GDP in New Zealand, 18% in the Netherlands and 14% in Finland.

The survival rate at 3 years of French companies created in Scop is 82% above the national average (66%, source Insee). At five years, this gap widens further. In the industrial sector, Scops have resisted better than other SMEs over the last ten years. The cooperative movement has many human and economic advantages for employees, who have a majority stake in the capital and ensure democratic governance.

At Les-Tilleuls.coop, each of us invests our time, talents and ideas to make the company grow. This equation works, since our SCOP has grown by almost four figures in 7 years, has always been profitable and has an extremely low turnover. Are you tempted to participate in our project? We are constantly looking for new talent. Do not hesitate to send us your CV, we are currently developing our Paris branch!