Diversity dealt with in Europe? Inspiration from a social economy cooperative in Barcelona

Diomcoop diversity Social Economy
Nicholas Clark Author

Author: Nicholas Clark

Diversity in Europe is growing to be recognized as a positive driver for increased creativity in business, where inclusion breeds a stronger assortment of ideas, increasing chances of success, yielding better results. Yet, this perception is far from visible in the daily lives of minority groups living in Europe. The eyes of Europeans were opened to racial problems after the appalling death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in the USA, fanning the flames of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, a recent panel [1] on “Is Brussels really United in Diversity?” at the OPP event IF2020 The virtual ideas festival, were clear to point out that racism and unequal opportunities for certain minority groups are still an enormous issue within the EU.

[1] Panelists included: Alice Kuhnke MEP (top right). Karen Taylor, ENAR (bottom right). Gurpreet Brar, Edelman (bottom right). Shada Islam, Commentator/New Horizons Project (bottom middle). Moderation, Celine Fabrequette (top left).

Europe cannot claim the higher ground on climate/ green issues when the issue of racism has not been fully dealt with

The panel’s sentiment passionately exclaimed an historic reaction of the people in the fight to end racism against the BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic) community and that European institutions should have their eye on the ball at all times and not just in the wake of a killing.

At EU level, On 18 September 2020 the Commission published its plan to step up action against racism in the European Union entitled: A Union of equality : EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025

The motto of our European Union is: ‘United in diversity’. Our task it to live up to these words, and to fulfil their meaning

In anticipation of the action plan the event panel made clear the importance of consulting all ethnicity groups to make this plan a truly meaningful piece of legislation.

Yet even at media level, Shada Islam, commentator at the New Horizons Project explained how ethnic minority journalists’ questions are still ignored, shrugged off with a general discourse of “why are you bringing race into this”. She went on to explain how missing a diversity of voices leads to flawed, one dimensional policy ending in group think. The consequence of lacking knowledge on people’s competence is discrimination. Hopefully the Commission were listening!

The discussion ended with a call for NGOs, companies, and consultancies to commit to diversity issues generate more inclusive societies and importantly provide more democratic business models, elaborating on the positive impacts the migrants bring to our communities and economy through entrepreneurial spirit and innovation.

The social economy is positioned perfectly to deal with issues of inclusion and diversity through its primacy of people, reinvestment of profits (often spent on training) and democratic governance.

Migrant entrepreneurs can be a huge source of inspiration, a noteworthy example being DIOMCOOP.

This socially innovative cooperative aims to silence the stigma and labels given to immigrants in Barcelona, where those coming from sub-Saharan Africa are often considered as a danger or as thieves.

Over a ten year period they have gathered together 16 inspirational, dedicated individuals from the street sellers of Barcelona to become group promotors for the cooperative. The overarching objectives: Occupation and Business; Social Attention (to educate and cover needs and basic rights); and Community Intervention.

DIOMCOOP has produced a business solely of migrant workers which is multicultural, commercially just throughout the supply chain and which gives dignified work and salary opportunities to migrants to gain experience and maybe even provide a path to much needed paperwork. 

The three business areas include:

Diomcoop Fashion cooperative

Fashion, Slow fashion naturally hand made locally in Barcelona from material of African origin

African cuisine, Natural ingredients, original recipes adapted to the needs of the clients

Diomcoop food cooperative
Diomcoop Logistic services

Logistic and security services, Setting up spaces and structures (for events and festivals), transport services (assembly and disassembly), coordination of events, license management and orientation and training

The coop provides a legitimate path for migrants to gain work, projects and social help. It fights against the stereotypes so strongly imposed on migrants and it takes a big step in the fight for equality. Let’s spread the message to inspire the commission and show how the social economy can be an important tool for their EU anti-racism action plan!


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Nicholas Clark Author

Nicholas Clark


Keenly interested in human & social affairs and issues of sustainability. Having recently studied Human Ecology and worked in education for more than a decade, his writings revolve around how we can improve conditions and livelihoods for local communities through policy and action.


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