How co-ops are helping displaced people and their host communities

A recent video from the ILO captures the impact of co-ops, with case studies from Jordan, Uganda and Turkey

Examples of how co-operatives can contribute mutually beneficial solutions to displaced people and host communities have been shared by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in a recent video.

The video uses case studies from Jordan, Uganda and Turkey, as part of the PROSPECTS partnership.

In forced displacement situations, co-ops created by host communities can include refugees in the businesses as workers or members. Conversely, co-ops formed by refugees can provide services and opportunities for participation to members of the host community and other forcibly displaced persons. 

The ILO video showcases this in action through a number of examples, such as co-ops in Jordan working with Syrian refugees to identify their skills and provide training and employment opportunities, particularly within Jordan’s agricultural sector.

In Uganda, savings and credit co-operatives, or saccos, have been helping refugees and their host communities to access finance. Thousands of members in Uganda are served by more than 10 saccos, enabling members to purchase agricultural equipment. 

SADA Women’s Cooperative, in Turkey, is also showcased. The co-op which brings together Syrian, Afghan and Turkish women to work alongside one another in a variety of trades. Its governance processes mean refugee women can participate in the co-op, even though Turkish trade law forbids refugees from setting up their own co-operatives.  

As part of the PROSPECTS partnership, the ILO says it is drawing on its “wealth of experience from working with co-operatives to enhance its response to forced displacement in the north and horn of Africa and the Middle East”, in order to improve employment and education opportunities and enhance the safety of both refugees and host communities.

Related: FAO supports agri-food co-ops for Syrian and Turkish women

As well making the case that co-ops are helping to improve the living and working conditions of people across the globe, the video includes a call to action, stating that “for co-operatives to truly thrive, governments need to create a legal and policy environment that enables their development”.