In this National Week of Cooperativism 2022, we remember that the history of cooperativism has its record in 1844 when 28 workers founded a consumer textile cooperative in Rochdale, England. Today, 178 years after successful and constant growth throughout the globe, the economic and social impact it has had, by offering better opportunities for decent work and quality of life worldwide; That is why we must reflect this week on the challenges that this movement has at the country level.
According to the “World Cooperative Monitor” (2020), the 300 largest cooperative companies in the world add up to a turnover of 1.1 trillion dollars. In addition, more than 12% of the world’s population is cooperative, affiliated with 3 million cooperatives that provide work to 10% of the employed population. These cooperatives have a membership of 1,200 million associates that generate 280 million jobs.
Throughout the world
In North America, in the United States, the impact of cooperatives is very strong and is evidenced by the fact that cooperatives provide 42% of electricity distribution. For its part, in Canada, 4 out of 10 people are members of at least one cooperative, while in the province of Quebec the figure rises to 70%.
In South America, in Uruguay, cooperatives are responsible for 3% of GDP; they produce 90% of the milk, 34% of the honey, 30% of the wheat and 60% of their production is exported to more than 40 countries. In the case of Bolivia, there are more than 1,600 cooperatives that generate around 32,000 direct jobs and more than 128,000 indirect jobs.
In Europe, the cradle of cooperativism, cooperatives play a leading role in the continent’s economy. There are 250,000 cooperatives in the EU, owned by 163 million citizens, employing 5.4 million people in five sectors: Agriculture, Forestry, Banking, Retail, Pharmaceutical and Health. In Finland, cooperatives are responsible for the production of 74% of food, 96% of dairy products, 50% of egg production, and 34% of deposits in the financial system.
In Asia, in Japan one of every three families are cooperative members, 91% of agricultural producers are members of cooperatives that together invoice annually more than one billion dollars. In Singapore, there are 1,400,000 cooperative members, which represents a third of its population. While in Korea, agricultural cooperatives bring together more than 2 million producers and annually bill more than 11 billion dollars.
According to the data managed by the Fundepos University Research Center, there are 1,553,651 members of cooperatives in our country as of the date the study was carried out in January 2020, that is, 21% of the Costa Rican population.
At the end of 2021, foreign trade in our country grew by two percentage digits in exports, this implies that there is a sector of the economy that has rebounded after the peak of the pandemic. For its part, the services sector is constantly evolving and growing, so the GIG economy is an opportunity for entrepreneurship and the employability of new generations.
Digital cooperative platforms and the GIG economy are the challenges that the country must pay attention to in order to be at the forefront of these issues worldwide, where cooperativism is taking accelerated steps in the knowledge revolution, for example there are sectors such as tourism that has its fairbnb.coop platform, taxi drivers with Cooptaxi, medical care with Suara, Commerce and Data with fairmondo, among others.
What these data indicate is that we have done well, so what is the challenge? From the academy and as a result of the constant interaction that we have with other higher education entities in the world, an important challenge is modernization, a vision for the future with a horizon of 2030. It consists of taking advantage of the full potential of the vast digital world and its multiple options, where cooperative platforms offer a further development path for quality employability in Costa Rica, as well as greater democratization of the economy.