Second CICOPA report examines trends in industrial and service co-operatives

26 Jan 2018

Following its first report in 2015, CICOPA has released its second global biannual report on industrial and service co-operatives (2015-2016). Based on a new methodology that combines qualitative and quantitative surveys with strengthened internal desk research, it aims to pursue and improve reporting of the evolution of its network, which dates back to 2004, and to draw an overall picture of the worldwide movement in this sector.

The report provides the main statistics from the sector today, both within the CICOPA network and beyond, and delves into the entrepreneurial development trends observed within the network over the last two years. It also looks at youth co-operative entrepreneurship and the involvement of CICOPA industrial and service co-operatives in the green economy, reporting some experiences in these fields. And it reports on the main challenges and opportunities faced by co-operatives within the CICOPA network as well as the most crucial policy issues reported by members at the national level, alongside those dealt with by CICOPA itself at international level.

Starting from the dataset used for "Cooperatives and Employment: Second Employment Report" (September 2017), the report estimates that there are, worldwide and beyond the CICOPA network, 377,984 co-operatives in the industrial and service sectors providing almost 20 million jobs. The estimated number of co-operatives in the CICOPA network is 65,000 providing four million jobs. These figures suggest that there is still a long way to go for CICOPA to enhance its network at global level.

As far as quantitative information on the CICOPA network is concerned, the number of co-operatives analysed for this report represents about 82% of the total number of co-operatives represented by CICOPA. Worker co-operatives make up the greatest proportion of these (74%). Social co-operatives and producers’ co-operatives make up respectively 17% and 1%. It seems very important to try to further understand the producers’ co-operative model, still so little present in the CICOPA network. This is particularly important now, when new forms of work and employment have multiplied, mainly through online platforms, and a co-operative response is urgently needed.

With regard to their economic activities, CICOPA worker co-operatives are mainly active in manufacturing (22.5%), wholesale and retail trade (14.5%), and construction (10.2%), whereas the most representative activities for social co-operatives are human health and social work (46.3%), education (12.7%), and administrative and support service (9.7%).

What about the main trends in entrepreneurial development observed within the network over the last two years? Overall, the report points out positive or stable entrepreneurial trends. In particular, health and social work and service activities seem to be enjoying most growth. However, signs of economic slowdown, compared to the previous two-year period (2013-2014, were reported in South America (Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia) and Eastern Europe (Poland, Romania and Bulgaria). In Europe, the service sector is generally doing better while industry is suffering somewhat, especially manufacturing and construction.

It should be underlined that we have been observing an increasing interest within our network towards the social co-operative model, which specialises in the provision of services of general interest (such as social and environmental services, education, culture) or in the work integration of disadvantaged and marginalised workers (such as persons with disabilities, long-term unemployed, ex-prisoners, addicts). Furthermore, there seems to be an increasing interest towards new innovative sectors, such as Information and communications technology, or green economy activities. However, these promising trends are not fully reflected in the figures yet and need to be closely monitored in the next years.