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A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

The ILO views cooperatives as important in improving the living and working conditions of women and men globally as well as making essential infrastructure and services available even in areas neglected by the state and investor-driven enterprises. Cooperatives have a proven record of creating and sustaining employment – they are estimated to provide at least 250 million jobs today; they contribute to promoting decent work and advancing sustainable development goals. The ILO activities are guided by the international standard on cooperatives, the ILO Recommendation on the Promotion of Cooperatives, 2002 (R.193).

Focus on this October

  1. International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

    Cooperating out of poverty

    17 October 2016

    This book offers an objective analysis of the state of affairs of the cooperative sector in Africa since the liberalization of the economy in the early 1990s.

  2. International Day of Rural Women

    Findings of the Assessment of Agricultural Cooperatives in West Bank

    15 October 2015

  3. World Teacher's Day

    Teachers Savings and Loan Society Limited (TISA)

    5 October 2016

    TISA is a financial cooperative established in 1972 to provide savings and loans services to teachers and employees of the Department of Education Papua New Guinea.

A bit of history

  1. Cooperative History Timeline

    Discover history timeline which navigates milestones of the cooperative movement and the ILO's work on promotion of cooperatives from the 18th century to date.

  2. Highlights on Cooperatives


  1. ILO Message on Cooperative and Social Economy Legislation in Greece