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Impronta Etica (ANCD & CONAD) - Mentors in retailers' association in Italy

Added on 22-03-2013




Impronta Etica



Business challenge

The commercial entrepreneur associate has to combine personal objectives (such as profit, growth, enterprise's accreditation) not only with stakeholders' legitimate CSR expectations, but also with the point of view of other cooperative's and CONAD movement associates.

The traditional training processes (formal and on the job) are necessary but not sufficient for the creation of this kind of professionalism. For this reason, it is necessary that new entrepreneurs are "sustained" by mentors. Mentors are chosen among the best entrepreneurs of CONAD's movement and the mentorship lasts until the training (for the three different roles: retailer, entrepreneur, cooperator) has reached the learning objectives (briefly definable through the ability to act positively and in total autonomy).


Through mentors, CONAD aims to help new entrepreneurs to bear values and practices that are in line with the cooperation's principles and CSR assumptions (which means they are able to put the enterprise to use in the territory where it operates, today and in the future). The objectives are: to protmote transition of CONAD's values beween generations; to encourage the construction of the specific identity of new associated entrepreneurs; to value older associated and highlight their entrepreneurial and life experience.

The initiative provides an initial meeting which aims to present the role of mentors in CONAD and share with the participants the further development of the initiative.

Some of the topics discussed at this meeting are:

  • Why becoming a Mentor within CONAD;
  • What does a mentor teach to new members;
  • Which are the main competences to be developed in order to create a constructive relation with younger people;
  • How to play a respectful leadership;
  • Confrontation among participants and sharing of the program's development.

The initiative includes a second meeting on the definition of content:

  • A respectful leadership in order to encourage and lead the mentee's evolution, respecting his needs, vision and opinion;
  • Ability to analyze the mentee's diffculties and growth blockades;
  • Ability of giving feedback in a acritic and constructive way, in order to sustain the mentee's self-esteem and motivation;
  • Ability to actively listen through empathy, use of question, silence and non verbal communication.

Internal functions involved are CONAD cooperatives' presidents (as customers and sponsor of the project) and Human Resources managers of CONAD cooperatives (such as experts in adults' learning processes).


The generation transition represents a very important issue for small and medium businesses that are at the core of production system,in Italy and in the European Union. The project could be further developed through a confrontation with other organizations of the associated distribution in the European Union, in order to share experience and good practices.

A further development of the project could involve senior company directors in favor of new company directors, with the same objective of managing the generation transition and transferring managerial competences based on CSR and business ethic values.

In both cases, the objective is to invest in the planning and management of generation transition processes in enterprises aiming to act in a pluralistic market with the awareness of their function's value: transparency; participation; decent work; health and environment protection; diversity respect.

Briefly, enterprises and organizations engaged in the construction of a solid and diffused social capital.

Challenges/Lessons learned:

The impacts expected from this project are: training of future generation of associated entrepreneurs, which will represent the associative basis of CONAD; ensure the continuity of cooperative movement, CSR and sustainability values.

This initiative is experimental: at present the generation transition in CONAD's associated enterprises has never had mentors, formally identified and trained to practice a role in favor of future generations.

This first phse is addressed to a limited group of associates - mentors coming from the 8 cooperatives that founded CONAD. After this pilot phase, the results will be evaluated also through an accurate monitoring of mentorship processes that will be activated.

The objective is to diffuse the training experience to other groups, after the experimental initiative.                          

The first training took place on 28th October 2010. There are two more meetings planned. 

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