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Who we are

The Technological Incubator for Popular Cooperatives (Incubadora Tecnológica de Cooperativas Populares – ITCP) is a university sponsored initiative run by the Engineering Post-Graduate and Research Coordination at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro – COPPE/UFRJ, which has, since 1995, had as its primary objective the inclusion of economically marginalized sectors of the economy within the formal system. Centered on strengthening cooperativism, as well as involved in the field of economic development in general, the ITCP has also helped put forward new public policies and dedicated a significant proportion of its time and effort to the search for a solution to the new relations existing in the global workplace and the affirmation of citizen’s rights.

What we do

Since its conception, the ITCP has, by means of cooperativism, helped to include not only those who have been falling gradually behind the market within this new national conjuncture, but also, and especially those who historically never previously formed part of it. In addition to assisting in market inclusion, the ITCP aims to promote, through work, popular organization and to create a network of solidarity that represents a solution or response to the model of exclusion present in the economy, thus generating alternatives for work, income and citizenship through communal self-reliant enterprises, which in turn broaden the rights of those workers involved

 

Broad aims

 

To create new popular cooperatives and strengthen those already incubated;

To promote cooperativist education amongst those people/groups who are interested in setting up cooperatives;

o develop methodology and methods which contribute to the challenge of economic and social transformation through a culture of cooperativism;

To establish partnerships with entities and governments at different levels aimed at promoting cooperativism;

To support and promote the setting up of Networks and other forms of organizing cooperatives;

To contribute to the preparation and implementation of public policies aimed at promoting social and economic development.

The Team

The team working at the Technological Incubator for Popular Cooperatives is multidisciplinary, and includes professionals and technicians from a wide variety of areas of knowledge, researchers and professors from the University itself, as well as students with scholarships and graduate and post-graduate students.

  
Participation in networks

University Network of Technological Incubators ( 16 brazilian universities )

Rio Network of Thecnology

University Network of the Americas for Cooperative Studies (22 universities  in North, Central and South America)

Partners

Finep - Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos;

FBB - Fundação Banco do Brasil;

DENACOOP - Departamento Nacional de Cooperativismo do Ministério da Agricultura;

CS - Comunidade Solidária (dois concursos);

PMRJ - Prefeitura Municipal do Rio de Janeiro/RJ;

PMSA - Prefeitura Municipal de Santo André/SP;

PMD - Prefeitura Municipal de Diadema/SP;

GERJ/BID - Governo do Estado do Rio de Janeiro e Banco Interamericano de Desenvolvimento;

SEBRAE - Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio às Micros e Pequenas Empresas;

SENAI - Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Industrial;

CNM/CUT - Confederação Nacional dos Metalúrgicos da Central Única dos Trabalhadores;

ICCO - Organização Intereclesiástica para Cooperação do Desenvolvimento Holanda;

GTZ - Sociedade de Cooperação Técnica Alemã;

NOVIB - Organização Holandesa para a Cooperação Internacional do Desenvolvimento.

The process of reorganizing and privatising Brazilian state-owned companies began in the 1980s and proceeded through the mid ‘90s, by which time the country’s social inequalities had become even starker. The less well off among the population suffered the direct consequences of the prevailing economic model, in which the state was largely absent, education levels were extremely low and work opportunities were in short supply. Violence in the community swelled and urban youth was both recruited by and fell victim to the burgeoning drug trade.

It was in this context that, in 1996, the Incubadora Tecnológica de Cooperativas populares (ITCP/ COPPE) was set up, under the auspices of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro – UFRJ, with the mission of fostering innovative action to promote economic inclusion and citizenship among the poorer segments of the population. This initiative was born out of a desire to seek a collective solution, based on cooperativism, to the problems of economic exclusion, unemployment and other factors keeping workers out of the formal job market, and to foster development allied to social justice.

The Incubator’s efforts were quickly recognized and earned awards from both the World Bank and the Getulio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo as one of the ten most important Brazilian endeavours in the fight against poverty. The methodology employed was passed on to 16 leading Brazilian universities in 10 different states and the accumulated experience became a national point of reference, particularly for the political model established, which, alongside the economic one, leads the new social players, strengthened by the practice of cooperativism, to develop a collective posture, as they feel an obligation in relation to the problems and concerns of the community to which they belong and are active on the national stage, influencing local and national public policy, with the broad objective of transforming the prevailing economic model.

Acting mainly in communities where the predominant ethnic background is Afro-Brazilian, the ITCP stimulates ongoing debate regarding the new forms of working relationships and economic insertion, leading to a heightened awareness of the importance of citizenship and work and their place in society. This is reflected most strongly among the women who play a leading role in the economic debate within their communities, acting as social agents focused on the need for public policies regarding sanitation, education and health. 

The perception that working with groups and communities presupposes the building of strategic partnerships at all levels - local, national and international, has led the ITCP to work strenuously along these lines during its 8 years in existence. In a variety of different areas, the Program to Foster and Strengthen Popular Cooperativism  has found the support needed to develop its prescribed policies. Much valuable support has been provided by Novib - Nederlandse Organisatie voor Internationale Bijstand, a vital partner in the process of institutionalising the ITCP and consolidating the program that makes it possible for the incubator to carry on its quest for work and income opportunities on behalf of socially excluded groups. With the benefit of this support, which enables the prime objective of incubating cooperatives to be met, it is perfectly natural that a program fostering popular cooperativism should seek to accelerate its development through cooperation and the continual expansion of the partnerships and institutional networks that lend their efforts to strategic action to effectively combat the structural causes of hunger and poverty and that enhance the institution’s sustainability

In 2001 and 2002 the ITCP advised the public administrations of the municipality of Diadema – one of the “ABCD” satellite towns to the south of the city of São Paulo – and the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Together with the Diadema Public Policy Observatory, it proposed policies for inducing sustainable local development that will also facilitate the economic insertion of the unemployed population. Through the state of Rio Grande do Sul’s Program for Solidarity in the Popular Economy, it stimulates the founding of companies that are interconnected through networks of popular enterprises. In 2003 and 2004, the ITCP is proceeded with its development work, under phase 2 of the Novib backing. 

Program to foster and reinforce Popular Cooperativism

Partnership ITCP/Novib
 

Accounting, economic, social, and administrative support for groups of the unemployed or underemployed in order to generate opportunities for work, income and citizenship, through self-administering cooperative endeavours.

(numbers from January to July 2004)

15 groups incubated

408 people served
 

Education Level

 

Gender

 

  

Age Group

 

 

Ethnic Group

 

  

Income Level

 

 

Commercialisation

Seeking to overcome obstacles to popular cooperativism

Cooperative Business Centre (Central de Negócios Cooperativos - CNC)

 ensure ongoing support for groups that have already been incubated

 generate economies of scale

 establish integrated commercialisation networks within the city of Rio de Janeiro

 

 

The ITCP is currently involved in the following projects in the public policy area:

Ability to replicate a methodology

Partnership ITCP/Municipal government of Alvorada-Rio Grande do Sul

 

Transfer of technology in the process of setting up a municipal Technological Incubator of Popular Cooperatives fostering popular cooperativism in the municipality of Alvorada.

monitoring 7 groups – 145 cooperative members

 

Generating opportunities in 15 poor neighbourhoods
Guidance towards Economic Integration project


Partnership ITCP/ Municipal government of Rio de Janeiro

Increase employment opportunities for the unemployed and/or those with unstable work, young people looking for their first job, women, particularly heads of families, and those who risk losing their jobs develop skills and abilities among cooperative members, the self-employed and small business entrepreneurs.

  

2,276 people served

1,141 forwarded for training

  

 

Communities served by the ITCP in Rio de Janeiro

 

  

Developing incubation indicators in São Paulo

System of monitoring and evaluation of the
Incubation of the Development with Solidarity Project
 

Partnership  ITCP/ Municipal government of São Paulo

Develop and implement a system for monitoring and evaluating the process of incubating the city hall’s Development with Solidarity (Desenvolvimento Solidário) project;

Formulate and put forward legal measures to consolidate public policy in the city of São Paulo.

Activities

Assessment of the actions taken under the project;

Interviews with project and enterprise managers and partners;

Preparation of a plan/agenda for studying the activities and

methodologies introduced by the various partners;

Preparation of a plan/agenda for studying the activities

Introduced in the enterprises;

Performing the studies (partners and enterprises);

Analysis and compilation of the results of the studies;

Holding workshops for the partners and project team;

Organization of the results of the workshops;

Preparation of indicators;

Holding seminars to present the indicators.

Credit for the Cooperatives, or Micro-lending?
Which is the best alternative for the popular cooperatives?

Supply of Productive Credit: Special Financing

Cooperative Credit Micro-lending

 

Partnership ITCP/Federal Savings Bank (Caixa Econômica Federal - CEF)

Definition of a banking facility for popular cooperatives,  at CEF branches;

Proposal of a legal milestone that will give this population segment access to credit.

15 million potential customers for credit and micro-lending in Brazil

only 115 thousand micro-lending customers, at present.


Monitoring, evaluation and consolidation of the
Community anagement of the natural resources in

local catchment areas in the north and northwest of the state  

Fishermen & Collectors

Partnerships ITCP/ state government of Rio de Janeiro

Develop methodologies for the monitoring, evaluation and consolidation of community management of the natural resources in these regions through sustainable rural incubators.


Collectors

Generation of employment and income by training the collectors of solid waste  to provide them  tools for cooperativism  

Provide them with the tools for cooperativism, self-management and collective working procedures.

Train representatives of groups of collectors of solid waste in courses on leadership.

Corporate Social responsibility, in the eyes of the ITCP

A significant number of companies, organizations and university programs that have a policy of social responsibility were contacted, with a view to generating more job and earnings opportunities for the incubated cooperatives.

COOPAMA - Cooperative of Friends of the Environment

23 cooperative members hired to run a conveyor belt and separate material that can be recycled for commercial use  at the “Usina Verde” plant.

COMEICE Cooperative

65 cooperative members from the field of building and electrical maintenance working on the premises of COPPE/UFRJ

Eagle Group (Grupo Águia) Cooperative

53 job positions at the Coppetec Foundation

A partnerships with the state government of Rio de Janeiro  has just been established; a project for the monitoring, evaluation and consolidation of the community management of the natural resources in local catchment areas in the north and northwest of the state.

And another one will shortly begin, with São Paulo municipality, for the generation of employment and income by training the collectors of solid waste in a way to provide them  tools for cooperativism, self-management and collective working procedures and to train representatives of groups of collectors of solid waste in courses on leadership.

 

With a view to developing information and communication technology (ICT), the Incubator has an important partner -InfoDev- The Information for Development Program

- for the business of the incubated cooperatives.

Introduction and increased use of

Information Technology (IT) in popular cooperatives

Partnership ITCP / InfoDev

Introduce, develop and incorporate ICT in the business of incubated Cooperatives, to augment productivity and broaden the market

Enhance the conditions for setting up cooperatives to provide ICT-related services

Pass on and replicate in other Incubators of Popular Cooperatives the lessons learned from the implementation of proposed initiatives.

Introduce, develop and incorporate IT in all relevant activities of the ITCP, and incubated cooperatives, with the aim of improving performance, sustainability and growth

During the period  December 2003 / January 2004 an independent consultant was retained to assist ITCP in the preparation of its strategic planning. It is expected that the strategic plan prepared as a result of that effort can help ITCP to quantify its achivements with respect to pre-established goals. It will also help to identify adjustment needs in order to better calibrate our focus towards improving institutional efficacy.

At the end of that strategic planning exercise the following points were identified as the ones that will require most of our attention:

Plan of Action

Political/production coordination and disclosure of ITCP know-how

Expansion of network participation

Evaluation of infrastructure

Implementation of management model

Creation of a centre for Funding / Sustainability at the ITCP

Systematisation of the incubation methodology

The ITCP is also a member of the University Network of Technological Incubators, comprising 16 universities, and the University Network of the Americas for Cooperative Studies, comprising 22 universities located in North, Central and South America, and participates among the group of universities that conducted the survey “A Panorama of Cooperativism in Brazil”. The ITCP is also currently participating, together with other institutions, in the Ibase  -  Instituto Brasileiro de Análise Sociais e Econômicas -  initiative “The Cooperatives’ Social Synopsis,” whereby the information disclosed by the cooperatives in their annual social synopses can become an important tool in relations with public bodies.

 

  

 

In incorporating the initially prescribed targets and seeking to build on its past achievements, the Incubator, through the Program to Foster and Strengthen Popular Cooperativism , reaffirms its aim of reinforcing areas and activities that offer potential and lay the foundations that will guarantee the sustainability of the work, based on the joining of efforts, with those who recognize the importance of economic inclusion and citizenship to our country, in order to attain common objectives.

Cooperatives under Incubation

The ITCP presently assists 15 self-run collective undertakings that are involved in a variety of economic activities within the state of Rio de Janeiro. There follows a brief description of each of these cooperatives.

Arte e Reciclagem (Art & Recycling)
This enterprise, located in the municipality of Mesquita, is made up of craftswomen devoted to producing handicrafts with a difference. They use for their raw materials objects that would otherwise be thrown away. Their products include pieces made of newspaper and fashionable items of womenswear, bedding and tableware made with patchwork and thread.

Bom Apetite - (Bom Apetite Food Production Cooperative)
The Cooperativa de Produção Alimentícia Bom Apetite, also located in Mesquita, was established for the purpose of preparing meals, sweet and savory pastries and providing a specialized buffet service.

Coomub (Women of the Suburbs Cooperative)
The “Cooperativa de Mulheres da Baixada - Coomub” was set up to collect, sort and recycle solid waste. The members run a campaign to raise environmental awareness and promote selective waste collection in the municipality of Mesquita, where they live and work.

Coopama (Friends of the Environment Popular Cooperative)
In the Jacarezinho housing complex, the “Cooperativa Popular dos Amigos do Meio Ambiente - Coopama” works at collecting, sorting and recycling solid waste and performing general services. During the process of incubation under the ITCP/COPPE-UFRJ, this cooperative’s first success was winning a contract from Usina Verde S.A. Located on the Ilha do Fundão, site of the federal university campus, Usina Verde is a pilot plant for the development of innovative technology to generate power from waste. Part of the urban waste that is collected is used to produce electricity and another portion is separated and sold by Coopama.

CooPSI
This cooperative is located in the district of Fonseca, in the municipality of Niterói, and works in the information technology area. It entered the incubator in November 2005 and is still in the pre-incubation phase. The group was born out of a digital inclusion project run by the NGO CDI, in partnership with the Sacred Family institution (connected to the Catholic Church).

Coosturart (Handicraft Sewing Cooperative)The “Cooperativa de Costura Artesanal - Coosturart” comprises, for the most part, craftswomen from the João XXIII housing complex, and was established for the purpose of utilizing materials left over from the clothes manufacturing process, using patchwork and other techniques, using pieces of colored fabric. In addition to providing services to third parties, the cooperative has launched its own range of bedding and tableware products, which are sold at handicraft fairs and related events.

Cootrabom (Workers of the Bonsucesso Housing Complex Cooperative)
The “Cooperativa dos Trabalhadores do Complexo de Bonsucesso Ltda - Cootrabom” is situated in the Complexo da Maré neighborhood and operates in the collection, sorting and recycling of solid waste. The appearance of this cooperative opened up many new possibilities for transforming the area, due to the heightened awareness of the community regarding selective waste collection and the organizing of labor to generate employment and income. The cooperative also provides gardening, painting, metalworking and air conditioning maintenance services.

Delícias do Rio (Rio Delicacies)
The “Cooperativa Delícias do Rio”, which is still in its initial phase, operates in the area of foods. The purpose of the enterprise is to organize events and provide the table decoration, waiters and waitresses. They also sell, to order, hot and cold savories and caramel candies. The cooperative comprises women who have children undergoing treatment at INCA (National Cancer Institute) and do not have the resources to cover the costs involved in this treatment (medicines, food, transport). For this reason, they turned to the “Casa de Apoio a Criança com Câncer Santa Teresa”, situated in the district of Estácio, which is the present base for the enterprise.

Dinamicoop
Dinamicoop is a cooperative located in the Morro do Macaco neighborhood, that brings together qualified professionals from the fields of information technology, graphic arts and IT consulting , to assemble and maintain computers and networks, set up websites and give basic computer courses (Office).This cooperative is situated in the district of Mangueira. Its field of activity is the selective collection and recycling of waste, and it is in the pre-incubation phase. They participated in the Supportive Recycling project, run by the NGO Cáritas and sponsored by Petrobras under its Zero Hunger program.

Mulheres Artesãs da Maré (Craftswomen of Maré Handicraft Production Co-op)
The “Cooperativa de Produção de Artesanal Mulheres Artesãs da Maré”, located in the community of the same name, produces exclusive bags and clothing accessories using the techniques of crochet and knitting. The enterprise has achieved export quality and also offers a range of costume jewelry using Brazilian stones on a knitted base.

Pendocoop
The Pendocoop Cooperative sells foods, notably cakes and meals, that are currently produced on a small scale for local retail employees and residents. The enterprise also produces a basket of basic food items, at an accessible price, guided by Supportive Economy principles.

Praia Vermelha
The Praia Vermelha Cooperative is an income generating project of the Philippe Pinel Institute. It was established for the purpose of generating employment and income for mental patients, as well as being an exercise in citizenship, by opposing a culture of exclusion. The cooperative produces and sells products containing nuts or cupuaçu (a fruit related to cocoa), such as sweets, cakes, bread and biscuits, and packaging (binders, folders, cardboard boxes, etc.). The activities serve the dual role of occupational therapy for the patients and stimulation of awareness regarding environmental concerns and the goal of sustainability in the use of natural resources.

Recicla Rio (Rio Recycling)
This cooperative is located in the Ilha do Fundão residential quarter, on the federal university campus, and thus has a major partner to help in its endeavor to become a going concern.

For more information about the cooperatives, access: www.cooperativismopopular.ufrj.br