Social innovation and local development: the role of credit cooperative banks in Trentino (Italy)

Jacopo Sforzi

EMES Conferences Selected Papers Series, ECSP-R11-08
Session: Sources of financial resources for developing social enterprises

This paper focuses on one distinct type of local institution: Credit Cooperative Banks. These specialized financial institutions distinguish themselves from other financial institutions by embodying values such as cooperation, reciprocity and territorial embeddedness while being sustained by the democratic representativeness principle: “one person, one vote”.

This paper is based on a case study carried out in the Trentino region of Italy; the most important Italian region in terms of national representation of Credit Cooperative Banks (55%) and where Credit Cooperative Banks are the only active banks in 6 out of 10 towns in the region. This investigation, utilizes semi-structured interviews and includes two types of cooperatives operating in Trentino: Cooperative Banks and Social Cooperatives.
The specific aim of this paper is two-fold:

  1. to show the role of cooperative credit banks in promoting cooperation, social capital, new development projects and innovative activities and services at the local level and;
  2. to outline strategies adopted by cooperative banks to sustain and promote the development and needs of social cooperatives.

Cooperative banks, thanks to their nature and local embeddedness, play an important role in territorial direction, choosing how to allocate resources and actively participating with other local actors in order to define new initiatives that foster local development.

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