ILO COOP discusses WIEGO report on enabling social protection in the informal economy through worker-led schemes in Africa

The SNI and WIEGO research report on "Enabling social protection within the informal economy: Lessons from worker-led schemes in Nigeria, Uganda and Togo" financed by OSF was launched at a webinar jointly organized with StreetNet International on November 4, 2021.

Actualité | 9 novembre 2021
StreetNet International (SNI) and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) launched a synthesis report of the research on "Enabling social protection within the informal economy: Lessons from worker-led schemes in Nigeria, Uganda and Togo". The research aimed to understand what works for informal workers on social protection.

Around 80 people took part in the meeting that looked at new ways of extending social protection to informal economy workers and capacitate their organizations in Africa through worker-led cooperatives and mutual societies. The synthesis report highlighted experiences of three worker-led social protection schemes based on principles of mutualism, self-help and solidarity: a health mutual society of motorcycle riders, MUPROSI in Togo; a Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisation of construction workers, KAMBE in Uganda; and a multipurpose cooperative society, FIWON in Nigeria.

The presentation by the author of the synthesis report highlighted the high level of responsiveness, flexibility, innovation and strength of internal governance in these worker-led social and solidarity economy (SSE) initiatives. She noted however, all these strengths are not sufficient to achieve long term financial viability of these schemes. Lack of effective regulation, external funding and lack of voice and bargaining power of these initiatives with policy makers were key constraints.

Speakers from the three initiatives (MUPROSI, KAMBE and FIWON) reflected on how linkages needed to be established between their organizations and external support to overcome the constraints.

The discussant for the session, ILO’ Simel Esim reflected on ways to overcome these challenges providing examples from other countries and regions. She elaborated on policies to support worker-led SSE initiatives. She noted how these can achieve scale through vertical organizations. She indicated how established financial cooperatives could be instrumental in supporting these initiatives.

A recording of the event is available in English here.
A recording of the event is available in French here.