Co-operatives Reduce Poverty
Date Posted: Nov 01, 2013


Evaluation confirms that co-operatives reduce poverty


Ottawa, October 31, 2013


Co-operatives in the developing world are improving the livelihoods of their members and Canadian efforts to support those co-operatives are helping them do that.


Those are just two of the findings from a comprehensive evaluation of Canadian support to co-operatives commissioned by the Canadian International Development Agency-- now the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).  The evaluation is the first of its kind, focusing on a specific development approach  rather than a project or organization and was prompted, in part, to commemorate the International Year of Co-operatives in 2012.  The evaluation looked at the work of three organizations - The Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), Développement International Desjardins(DID), and SOCODEVI - in three countries - Guatemala, Vietnam, and Burkina Faso.  Three other countries where co-operative development has not been particularly successful - Cameroon, Honduras, and Tanzania -were chosen as "deviant case studies"  in an effort to more accurately isolate those things that work, and do not work in developing successful co-operative movements. 


The evaluation, which was conducted by Capra International Inc., was organized around three main questions:


1)      What are the local conditions that trigger the onset of the co-operative model and the key factors that influence its evolution over time, and facilitate or hinder its expansion and sustainability?

2)      What comparisons can be drawn regarding the evolution of the co-operative sectors in different countries and under different local conditions.

3)      What is the contribution of the co-operative model to poverty reduction among co-operative members?


In response to the first question, the evaluation found that co-operatives emerge when a number of key factors come together.  The first catalyst is the existence of unmet needs in the community.  It is also important that there are local leaders determined to form co-operatives and there is a high level of social cohesion. A legislative or policy environment that is either supportive, or at least not hostile to co-operatives is important, and access to support from abroad, such as that provided by CCA, DID and SOCODEVI, also contributes to the emergence of successful co-operatives. 


For question two, a number of elements were identified as critical in the success of co-operative development ventures.  Governance that effectively engaged members in the democratic process, adhered to government regulations, ensured oversight of operations, and provided effective checks and balances to ensure against corruption of mismanagement proved to be critically important. A related factor is a strong sense of member ownership and confidence in co-operative leaders.  As well, it is important that co-operatives professionalize in order to improve productivity and services and respond to market changes. 


Finally, members believe that involvement in co-operatives has reduced poverty, increased family incomes, and improved business opportunities. Co-operatives have increased the availability of products and services in many communities, and in general terms have added wealth to the communities they serve.


Visit CCA's website to read the evaluation.



For further Information contact:

David Shanks

Manager Publications and Media Relations

275 Bank St., Suite 400, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2L6

613 238-6711 ext. 207 Toll Free 1-866-266-7677


The Canadian Co-operative Association is a national association for co-operatives in Canada, representing more than nine million co-operative and credit union members across the country. CCA members come from many sectors of the economy, including finance, insurance, agri-food and supply, wholesale and retail, housing, health and the service sector. CCA provides leadership to promote, develop, and unite co-operatives and credit unions for the benefit of people in Canada and around the world.


Visit our web site at


 The Canadian Co-operative Association gratefully acknowledges the Canadian International Development Agency for their continued support.




Back to What's New