Ugandan co-ops thrive through government support

The Ugandan government has made the revitalisation and development of co-operatives in the country a priority, with a series of programmes and initiatives aimed at promoting the sector....

The Ugandan government has made the revitalisation and development of co-operatives in the country a priority, with a series of programmes and initiatives aimed at promoting the sector.

As of July 2015, there are around 16,500 co-operatives registered in Uganda, where the population is approximately 37 million. The largest sector representation is savings and credit co-operatives (SACCOs), with over 3,000 co-op enterprises.

The government first passed a comprehensive National Cooperative Policy in 2011, recognising the contribution co-ops made towards increasing household income and wealth creation.

Ugandan co-operatives help address climate change

Now the cabinet has passed a Cooperative Societies Act to strengthen co-op regulation, promote compliance and expand co-op enterprises in the country. The bill is due to be passed into law.

Uganda is one of the world's largest producers of bananas
Uganda is one of the world’s largest producers of bananas

Co-ops have been active in Uganda for over a century. A statement from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives said: “Cooperatives play an important role in socioeconomic development through the creation of jobs, improvement of member income, the promotion of added value, and social stability.”

The department described the co-op movement in Uganda as ‘very much alive’.

Ugandan co-ops cover a variety of sectors, and agricultural co-ops are well-represented. The government has initiated projects like the One Village One Product programme, which provided equipment to over 40 co-operative societies in 18 districts, as well as training members in business proposal writing and other business skills. The government has also promoted the formation of fruit growers’ co-ops in the Teso region through the Uganda Development Corporation.

Away from agriculture, there are currently 17 energy co-ops – all of which are involved in power distribution – and five health co-operatives.

Transport is another area where co-ops can be found. Uganda has 232 driver co-operatives and 88 co-ops for boda-bodas – two-wheeled bicycle or motorcycle taxis.

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