ILO COOP presents cooperatives as an enterprise model for transgender communities in Indonesia

Representatives from ILO COOP presented the potential of cooperative model for empowering the transgender community in Indonesia

News | 19 March 2021
The ILO COOP representatives presented in a webinar “Cooperative Model for Transgender Community” on March 17 to discuss how cooperative model could be leveraged for the socio-economic empowerment of the transgender community in Indonesia. The event was organised by the ILO Jakarta Office after transgender community NGO expressed their interest in exploring how the cooperative model could maximize the entrepreneurial potential and provide decent jobs and livelihoods for its members.

Mr. Kazutoshi Chatani, employment specialist in ILO Jakarta Office gave brief introductory remarks on the impact of COVID-19 global pandemic on workers and enterprises in the world in general and in Indonesia in particular. He also underlined the potential of cooperatives as a means of job creation and social inclusion in Indonesia. His remarks were followed by a presentation from ILO COOP Manager who gave an overview of the cooperative model, its definition, values and principles, explaining the benefits of collective action, and the ways cooperatives can support transgender community and fight against discrimination. Ms. Heejin Ahn, Technical Officer presented a few examples including Estilo Diversa, the textile cooperative in Argentina, and LGBT Place of Refugee, Multi-Purpose Cooperative in the Philippines. Ms. Andrea Davila, Technical Officer presented Our.Coop package, a series of tools to help organize, establish and manage a cooperative. ILO COOP’s full presentation can be viewed here.

Hartoyo from Suara Kita, an organization advocating LGBT rights in Indonesia, shared the challenges and opportunities for improving the livelihoods of its members. Hartoyo explained that many people in the community have difficulty accessing education and health services, which limit their opportunities for accessing jobs and generating income. Hartoyo shared Suara Kita’s advocacy efforts, to raise awareness and increase understanding of the needs of the transgender community among the public. Hartoyo also underlined Suara Kita’s goal of supporting its members expand their online marketplace through the cooperative model, and equip its members with management skills, such as IT skills to market and sell their products.

Rully Malay from Yayasan Kebaya, a transgender organization in Yogyakarta shared the lessons learned and challenges of cooperative development among transgender community in Indonesia. She mentioned that despite the favourable legal and institutional support from the government, challenges remain in its implementation, including high mobility among transgender women, many of them who are in debt, and some defaulting on loans in savings groups. She explained that the cooperative model could be used to enhance the members’ skills in marketing and financial management, and improve the members’ livelihoods.

Following the presentations, participants brainstormed concrete strategies to support the transgender community in forming a cooperative. They discussed the cooperative model as a way to promote awareness and understanding from the public. A cooperative, if established, could extend its membership to the public, following the cooperative principle “voluntary and open membership.” This can serve as a bridge to foster diversity and inclusion.

It was noted that partnerships could be formed with businesses, universities, practitioners, NGOs and governments to establish and sustain the cooperative for the transgender community. Participants agreed that more efforts are needed to raise awareness of the benefits of the cooperative model to the community members. Concrete follow-ups were proposed, such as linking up with cooperatives of transgender communities in other countries like the Philippines, using Think.Coop for communities who are interested to learn more about the cooperative business model, and Start.Coop for those who wish to start a cooperative.