Basque Country is becoming one of the popular spots for gastronomy in Japan. The recent Basque Cheesecake “boom” as well as the city of San Sebastian has made it even more popular, but even before this, the Basque Country has been well known among one movement in Japan. This is the cooperative movement who has followed the Basque cooperative system since long ago.
For the last four years JAM Global, has been working with the Japanese Consumers´ Cooperative Union connecting them to the Mondragon Cooperative. Mondragon is mainly famous because it’s one of the few workers cooperative group where most of the cooperatives are industrial. For example Japanese cooperatives have 568 consumers cooperatives while Mondragon has only 1. Instead, there are no industrial manufacturing cooperatives in Japan and Mondragon has 64.
During 4 days the presidents of different regional coops including: Mirai (Coop Deli), Kobe, Kyoto, Osaka, Aichi, Osaka-Izumi, Ehime and Fukui, visited the Basque Country in order to learn and get inspiration from the Basque Cooperative Movement.
During the visit the presidents visited Mondragon Team Academy, the university where students are no longer called students, they have no professors, no classes and no exams, but they create their worker cooperative from the first day of class and learn about team-entrepreneurship with the motto “learning by doing”, they are teampreneurs with coaches, real offices and monetary objectives including learning journeys every year (Finland, Silicon Valley, India and China) The presidents talked with students and coaches and found it a very inspiring model.
Next day we visited Mondragon Cooperatives Headquarter where they were welcomed by one of the directors who during 5 hours discussed about the model of Basque Cooperatives and Japanese ones. That night we enjoyed a pintxo tour around the old town of San Sebastian learning about the Basque food and gastronomy.
The third day they visited the Basque Culinary Center in the city of San Sebastian, the university was created by the Michelin star chefs from Basque who wanted to keep promoting the chefs in basque. After that they were welcomed by the governor of San Sebastian region, where they explained about the San Sebastian region’s strategy for promoting and supporting cooperatives. The presidents were interested specially on why the government is supporting the internationalisation of the cooperatives and he explained that it is because it is very important to be global nowadays in order to survive, but that the most important is to follow a strategy to keep attracting the benefit to our region to keep maintaining green jobs.
After the meeting they had lunch at LABe, new gastronomic food lab in San Sebastian supported by the government and Basque Culinary Center, where they could eat the food cooked by the graduated students from Basque Culinary Center.
That afternoon they visited the only consumers cooperative from Basque, Eroski. JAM Global organized as well the visit from Eroski to Hiroshima and Tokyo on February 2019. Thanks to this they could meet the head of consumers relations, who explained that the 64% of the high positions in Eroski are controlled by woman.
Next day, they visited the peace museum in Guernica and had a lovely visit to a cooperative txakoli cellar. Txakoli is the white wine from Basque done with the autóctous grapes: Hondarribi Zuri.