Cooperatives

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A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

The ILO views cooperatives as important in improving the living and working conditions of women and men globally as well as making essential infrastructure and services available even in areas neglected by the state and investor-driven enterprises. Cooperatives have a proven record of creating and sustaining employment – they are estimated to provide at least 279 million jobs today; they contribute to promoting decent work and advancing sustainable development goals. The ILO activities are guided by the international standard on cooperatives, the ILO Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No.193).
In 2020, the ILO's Cooperatives Unit celebrates its centenary. During the course of the year, there will be series of events, publications, and a photo exhibit to commemorate this anniversary. These activities will not only be looking back in history but also reflecting on the future of cooperation and the role of the ILO in contributing to it. Find out more on our ILO COOP 100 feature page


The ILO will host an ILO COOP 100 Webinar II - Advancing gender equality through cooperatives on 27 April, 2020. Check it out here

The ILO has also launched a call for papers for the ILO COOP 100 Symposium to be organized from 16 to 17 November 2020. Check it out here

Training Resources

  1. Job preservation through worker cooperatives: An overview of international experiences and strategies" - this is also relevant for the current crises.

  2. The Role of Cooperatives and Other Self-Help Organizations in Crisis Resolution and Socio-Economic Recovery

  3. Start.COOP

  4. Think.COOP

  5. My.COOP - Managing your agricultural cooperative

  6. ApexFinCoop – Advance Policy and Effectiveness for Financial Cooperative Apexes

  7. ILO SSE Academy

  8. Training resource pack for agricultural cooperatives on the elimination of hazardous child labour

  9. Cooperatives legislation and policy

  10. Project design manual

  11. MATCOM - Training for the management of cooperatives

COOP Champions

  1. COOP Champions

    Kerryn Krige, ILO DWT/CO-Pretoria

    22 July 2019

    COOP Champions features ILO colleagues from around the world working on cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy enterprises. It highlights their contributions, and shares highlights of their experiences, current work, and future aspirations.

  2. COOP Champions

    John Bliek, Enterprises Specialist at ILO Office for the Andean Countries

    18 April 2019

    COOP Champions features ILO colleagues from around the world working on cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy enterprises. It highlights their contributions, and shares highlights of their experiences, current work, and future aspirations.