The South Korean co-operative movement is entering a second phase of development with the adoption of a new master plan by the government.
Last year, the ministry of strategy and finance reviewed the achievements and limitations of the first plan for co-operatives, adopted in 2014.
The ministry plans to focus on four core strategies: strengthening the autonomy of co-ops, improving the awareness of co-ops, job creation through co-ops and strengthening the co-operative market.
The vision of the second plan is “to achieve growth through job creation and efficient welfare delivery”. The ministry also highlighted the co-operative movement’s progress in terms of stable job creation, democratic operation and contribution to local communities.
Co-operatives received a big boost after the passing of the Framework Act of Cooperatives in 2012, which provided a legal framework for businesses to be established as co-op.
The law helped co-ops set up across all sectors, with the total number in the country increasing to 16,600. Co-ops have grown their average number of employees from 7.1 in 2013 to 8.2 in 2015.
In addition, 49% of co-ops have contributed to their local communities through voluntary work, donation, or fund-raising activities.
The new plan seeks to improve the access of co-ops to policy funds as well as helping them design their own self-financing plans. The government wants to encourage commissioning to co-operative businesses and provide systematic support to young entrepreneurs wishing to set up co-ops.
As part of the next stage, the ministry will work to encourage freelance professionals to set up co-ops. The government will continue to promote partnerships between its departments, local government and the private sector while strengthening intermediary co-op support organisations.
The ministry is also setting up a consultation body in collaboration with representatives from co-ops to discuss the needs of practitioners within the sector.