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CICOPA, the international organisation of industrial and service co-operatives, published its second global report on “Co-operatives and Employment”. Based on data from 156 countries, the updated estimate shows that employment in or within the scope of co-operatives is at least 279.4 million people across the globe, in other words 9.46% of the world’s employed population.


According to Mr. Bruno Roelants, Secretary General of CICOPA, “Employment is one of the most important contributions made by co-operatives throughout the world. This report shows that people involved in co-operatives constitute a sufficiently high percentage to be considered as a major actor in the United Nations “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, as well as in the worldwide debate on the “Future of Work” launched by the International Labour Organization.”

The report also examines co-operatives’ specific contributions to addressing problems related to work and employment in the informal economy:       


  • People working in the informal economy who join savings and credit co-operatives, mutual insurance co-operatives, multi-purpose co-operatives and consumer co-operatives have an easier access to credit, education and training, affordable goods and services to meet their basic needs and a certain level of social protection based on solidarity and mutual help. 
  • Self-employed producers and entrepreneurs who join shared service co-operatives gain access to various services which help them to attain economies of scale and a higher bargaining power.
  • For the self-employed workers and freelancers who have considerably increased in number over the last decades, co-operatives could be used by trade unions or member based organisations as a tool to            organize them, but could also provide innovative models which could guarantee both flexibility and protection.
  • Worker co-operatives, which aim at providing decent jobs to their worker-members, can be a direct solution to the formalization of informal employment


However, to fully display the potential contributions of the co-operatives, “a favourable environment and an appropriate legal framework are necessary” and “the co-operative model should be better explained to trade unions, member-based organisations, NGOs and local governments”, concludes the report.