Communty-Wealth Interview : Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union Interviewed by Steve Dubb, Research Director, The Democracy Collaborative
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In August 2012, a delegation of the Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union toured co-ops in Cleveland, Ohio; Iowa; and Washington, D.C. (where this interview was conducted). Founded in 1965 as a buying club by 200 housewives in Tokyo, today the Seikatsu (“lifestyle” or “living”) co-ops have over 340,000 members. Members belong to separately incorporated, affiliated cooperatives, located in 21 of Japan’s states or “prefectures.” The network also includes eight associated companies, including a milk factory. Together, network enterprises have an annual turnover of US $1 billion. Member equity is US $452 million (average member share of US $1,300 per member). In 1992, Seikatsu founded its first worker cooperative. Today, over 600 worker co-ops employ over 17,000 people in such businesses as food distribution, food preparation, catering, recycling, childcare and education.
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