Spotlight Interviews with Co-operators

OCB: Promoting and innovating in cooperative enterprises in Brazil

“Spotlight Interviews with Co-operators” is a series of interviews with co-operators from around the world with whom ILO officials have crossed paths during the course of their work on cooperatives and the wider social and solidarity economy (SSE). On this occasion, ILO interviewed Mr. João Marcos Silva Martins, Institutional Analyst of the Organization of Brazilian Cooperative (OCB), the national apex organization for the cooperative movement.

Article | 30 September 2019

Can you tell us about yourself?

Mr. João Marcos Silva Martins
I have been working as an Institutional Analyst at the OCB for the past six years. I am responsible for international projects developed by OCB. I also represent OCB in the thirteen international organizations where OCB is a member. I have a bachelor degree in International Relations and a MBA on International Trade.

What is OCB?

Founded in 1969 OCB is the national apex organization for the cooperative movement in Brazil. It celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The Brazilian Law recognizes OCB as the representative of the cooperative movement in the country through the Act 5.764, from 1971. OCB has 6,800 cooperatives as its members, which in turn congregates 15 million individual members and generates 400 thousand direct jobs across Brazil.

OCB represents the interests of the cooperative movement in Brazil. It supports the Brazilian Government in the implementation of public policies on promoting cooperative businesses. We also dialogue with the Brazilian parliament. In 1990, OCB proposed the creation of a cooperative caucus in the Brazilian Parliament in order to better represent the interests of its members on relevant bills and acts that have an impact on the cooperative movement. Today, 29 years later, the caucus has more than 300 parliamentarians, out of 513 members of the Lower House and 81 members of the Senate and it is the largest caucus in the parliament that is independent of political parties and ideologies.

OCB is present in all 27 Brazilian states through its regional offices. OCB offers assistance to its members and promotes their services and products to access markets. OCB is also engaged in international cooperation projects in Botswana and Mozambique.

What are the main activities of OCB?

Participants of a SDGs workshop organized by OCB in Brasilia in 2018
OCB is trying to assist the cooperatives to invest in innovation. We are starting a project where we will create a committee where the cases of success on dealing with the new market tendencies will help cooperatives in difficulty to chance their management and performance. Transportation cooperatives have faced challenges in adapting themselves to new practices in public transportation. Last year, we organized an international mission to inspire the cooperative leaders to innovate in their cooperatives. We have been closely assisting this group of cooperatives to encourage them to reformulate the way they offer their services.

How do you see the challenges and opportunities for the Brazilian cooperative movement?

Slaughterhouse of Cooperative Lar, the largest employer among Brazilian cooperatives. It also employs a large number of Haitian refugees.
Brazilian cooperatives generate social and economic development in Brazil. They play a critical role in achieving food security, being responsible for 48 per cent of the agricultural production in the country. They are also important for financial inclusion. There are more than 100 cities and villages where the only financial services provider is a cooperative. As a developing economy, Brazil continues to depend on cooperatives to achieve sustainable development. On the other hand, cooperatives are still not well understood by the government. There is a situation of double taxation for some types of cooperatives. The legal environment can be further improved to guarantee adequate treatment to the cooperative businesses in the country.

Spotlight interviews with cooperators is a series of interviews with cooperative leaders around the world, whom ILO officials have encountered in the course of their work with cooperatives. This article does not constitute an endorsement by the ILO.