The cooperative “Seniorengenossenschaft Riedlingen” was founded in 1991 and is the oldest care cooperative in Germany. Due to its highly successful history, it is the best practice example of many new initiatives. In the interview, the chairman of the cooperative, Mr. Josef Martin, gave us practical tips based on his long experience to lead a cooperative to success.

  1. Ensure sustainability in all respects

A helpful principle is to always ensure the cooperative’s independence. This applies in particular to financing. Donations alone are therefore not a good basis, since they cannot be sustainably planned. Josef Martin also advises not to use a trust as a model, because this means that the independence of the cooperative is lost.

iCareCoops Online Guide offers a variety of useful tips and instructions on that matter


  1. Get in touch with competitors

There are hardly any cooperatives without competition. It can be either another cooperative or another type of initiative. In order to get along well with each other, it is important to observe the competition and, if possible, make contact. This gives you a better understanding of each other’s goals and may even result in collaboration.

iCareCoops profile pages make it easy for you to get an overview of regional competition

  1. Don’t give up

Establishing a cooperative is not always easy. Often it takes a while until the new services are accepted by the region. Thus, it is imperative to not give up to soon. Many successful cooperatives have made the breakthrough only after a few years. This also applies to some services provided by the cooperative in Riedlingen. For example, the introduction of a new collection and delivery service has only been a success after some time.

 iCareCoops Online Guide provides helpful advice and links to additional resources

  1. Pay attention to your environment

As a cooperative manager you have to always be open to new ideas, suggestions and criticism. This applies both to members and colleagues as well as to external peers. One option is to actively seek dialogue with people or to even establish a regular “round table” for feedback. Face-to-face contact has proven to be essential for Josef Martin. Although he has also tried feedback sheets they have not proven useful. Internal and external feedback cannot only improve existing services but also result in the introduction of new services by the cooperative.

In addition to personal meetings, iCareCoops message, discussion board and poll features provide an easy way to get in touch with others quickly

  1. Do not be scared by online services

Josef Martin sees the future of the cooperative in the use of practical and intuitive online services. Many tasks of cooperative administration can be done online quickly and simply as well as often in collaboration with each other. Digital technologies allow cooperatives to act faster and more flexibly.

Do you have specific questions about the management of cooperatives in the care or AAL field? We will be glad to answer your questions.