A new international cooperative entrepreneurship competition for 16-24-year-olds has been launched. Called the Mondragón City Challenge after the sponsoring town in the Basque region of Spain, it is aimed at developing business management skills in secondary school, vocational training and university students across the world.

Teams of two to four people have entered this challenge under one of three headings: ‘Technological and Digital’, ‘Health and Social’ and ‘Energy and Climate’. They are required to describe the idea of the business project the team would like to develop, based on a cooperative management model.

On March 23 and 24, a technical jury composed of international cooperators will announce the selection of 20 projects with the greatest potential. From that time, the team will have until June 21 to develop their projects with the help of tutors from ASEKoop (Asesores Seniors Cooperativistas) and Amigos de Arizmendiarrieta” association. Six finalists and winners will be selected by a professional jury and announced on 19 November.

Bruno Roelants, Director General of the ICA and a member of the professional jury, said: “We have highly creative minds who will showcase the cooperative model and the entrepreneurial spirit among young people. I’m looking forward to reviewing these entries in a few months to inspire me as we make our plans for the Seoul World Cooperative Congress in December.”

Winners in the 16-18 age category will win a trip to Europe, while those in the 19-24 age category will win a trip to the Republic of Korea to attend the World Cooperative Congress in Seoul from 1-3 December 2021. A runner-up for the most innovative project will be given an ‘Originality Award’ and a prize of 800 euros.

In the coming months, the shortlisted 20 teams will also have the opportunity to see first-hand what a cooperative enterprise does and how they are managed through their mentoring cooperatives. On October 4, six finalists will give a 10-minute presentation to the professional jury on their business ideas and answer questions.

On 19 November, the finalists will gather in Mondragón for a final task.

“I and the rest of the professional jury are very much looking forward to announcing the winner at a special ceremony at the Amaia Theatre-Cinema in Mondragón on November 19, 2021,” added Mr. Roealants. “The competition is a great way to encourage cooperative entrepreneurial behaviour and introduce young people to the cooperative model. This gives us the opportunity nurture cooperators of the future, learn from their innovative ideas, and promote the cooperative model to the next generation.”

Mondragón is best known as the birthplace of the Mondragón Corporation, one of the largest multisectoral cooperative groups in the world. The Mondragón City Challenge has been made possible through a public-private collaboration between The Organisation: El Diario Vasco, Mondragón Town Council,  the Basque Government,  the Supreme Council of Basque Cooperatives,  the Konfekoop, the Mondragón Corporation, the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the University of Mondragón.

How can we strengthen our cooperative movement? Attendees at the World Cooperative Congress in Seoul will learn how innovation and entrepreneurship will require young cooperators to connect to a large support network of people, ideas and financial resources. Learn more here.