The Cooperative Bank of Oromia (Coopbank), from Ethiopia, has joined the International Cooperative Alliance in October 2020.
Ethiopia has a very low financial service coverage as mainstream financial institutions are heavily tilted towards the urban centers, leaving the rural areas underserved. Reluctance and low capacity of the financial institutions in the country to serve rural community, a demand-supply gap prevailed in financial market especially in rural areas, coupled with farmers awareness to be organised into cooperatives and the increasing need to finance cooperatives called for establishment of a cooperative bank. Furthermore, finance appeared to be the critical bottleneck to sustain the cooperative institutions and ultimately the farmers. It was all these glitches that initiated the inception and establishment of Cooperative Bank of Oromia.
Mr. Haile Gebre Lube, regarded as the founding father (proponent) of Ethiopia’s cooperatives, brought the idea of founding the bank as he believed that the best way to fight poverty is through cooperation. The project was formally established in 2002 with majority of shareholders being the cooperative societies. The bank had the commercial license in October 2004 and commenced operations in March 2005. Currently, 65% of the share of the bank is owned by primary cooperatives, cooperative unions and cooperative federations. The membership is made of organisations, associations and individuals, all of them having voting rights at their General Assembly.
With the latest changes in the membership, the ICA has now 315 member organisations from 111 countries.