Share the Benefits! | Six Benefits of Cooperatives in Development
In preparation for June's theme 'Sustainable Green Growth, Decent Jobs and Businesses' within the framework of the European Year for Development 2015, we are launching the campaign #SharetheBenefit. Every week, we will unfold one benefit of cooperatives in development.
Spread the word & use your social media to #SharetheBenefit
This initiative is part of our Cooperatives in Development project.
#SharetheBenefit | #6benefits | #EYD2015
Tackling poverty and creating food security
Cooperatives enable smallholders in partner countries to market products together and get a stronger voice in the global supply chain. An established model, the ILO estimates that nearly 50% of the world's rural agricultural produce is marketed through cooperatives.
Over 75% of Fairtrade products are produced by cooperatives, helping 887,000 smallholders, accroding to figures from Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International.
Providing affordable finance
Financial cooperatives such as credit unions offer sustainable finance for locl people excluded from the traditional banking system. Because they are run by and for people at a community level, and they lend cautiously, credit unions offer a safe approach to savings and loads.
In India, the Self-Employed Women's Association has created a cooperative bank, owned and run by its users, to provide affordable finance for female workers who are otherwise unable to access credit.
Building local expertise and profits
Because cooperatives are run by and for local people, they develop, and pass on, the business expertise. Profits generated stay local, and are invested in the cooperative, the local area or distributed to the local owners. Cooperatives are an effective tool for self-help.
Saguapac in Bolivia has grown to become the largest urban water cooperative in the world, serving 1.2 million people - growht made possible because the profits have been reinvested in the business and the expertise retained locally.
As an international movement founded on the principle of self-help, there is a high degree of cooperation amongst cooperatives. Strong cooperative networks enable practitioners in different parts of the world to share learning and best practice to one another.
The Ugandan Cooperative College, which provides training in cooperative management and governance, is supporting the development of cooperatives across South Sudan.
Creating decent jobs
Worldwide, over 100 million people are employed by cooperatives and 3 billion secure their livelihoods through them. As people-centred businesses, they aim to provide decent work with job security and good working conditions, whether it is for farmers, labourers or office workers.
Approximately 250,00 Kenyans are directly employed by cooperatives and 63% of the population derive their livelihoods directly or indirectly from them.
As open and democratic organisations, cooperatives foster gender equality. many women have senior postions in cooperatives, a significant number of cooperatives have been established by women to enable them to secure an income, whilst in countries such as Kenya gender quotas are required for cooperatives Boards.
In Uganda, the Bukonzo coffee cooperative union is strongly committed to women's empowerment: 85% of its members are women, and specialist courses are run to develop female members' business skills and capacity.