Cooperating out of Poverty: The Renaissance of the African Cooperative Movement
Publication date: 1 January 2008
The study shows that the success of cooperative enterprises in Africa can significantly contribute to poverty alleviation in a number of ways. For instance, it has been demonstrated that cooperatives create employment and income-earning opportunities that enable members to pay school fees, build houses, invest in business and farming, and meet other family expenses. They also create solidarity mechanisms to re-enforce the traditional social security system, which is largely undeveloped, by setting up schemes to cater for expenses related to education, illness, death and other unexpected socioeconomic problems. And by integrating the poor and the relatively well-off in the same income-generating opportunities, cooperatives also make a contribution to the reduction of exclusion and inequality. This study has, therefore, succeeded in unveiling the African cooperative sector since the liberalization of the economy in the early 1990s. It is apparent that the cooperative sector is present, but relatively silent and, to a certain extent, timid due to the absence of vertical structures to articulate its interests and show its presence. Perhaps it is this lack of a voice that has seen governments, donors and even researchers by-pass the sector; thereby denying it the very much needed visibility on the development scene. We hope that this study makes a case for the visibility of the cooperative movement on the continent.