Iranian minister wants a co-op for women street vendors

He highlighted the role of co-ops in empowering women, and called on female entrepreneurs to consider the model

An Iranian government initiative could see women street vendors in Tehran organise as a worker co-operative. 

Seyed Hamid Kalantari, deputy minister of co-operatives, labour and social welfare, told local paper Tehrantimes that a co-op would be set up for women street vendors.

Iran is home to more than 2,400 women co-ops with over 29,000 members. The minister highlighted their role in empowering women, and called on female entrepreneurs to consider the co-operative model, particularly in the IT sector, flower growing and the sale of homemade products.

He added that the co-op model enables women to achieve scale and sell their products and services both nationally and abroad.

In 2016 the informal economy accounted for 28% of the job market in Iran. At the time there were 4,000 street vendors in Tehran subways, 40% of whom are women.

The ministry conducted a study in 2016, which showed that over 94% of street vendors wanted to be organised. Since then, the ministry has been working with the Tehran municipality to find a way to formalise this sector of the economy.

Street vendors have sometimes been been fined by the municipality. They have also been intimidated the street mafia, which charges them to allow them to occupy the space on the pavement. The authorities are encouraging vendors to book permanent or temporary stalls in markets but there is not enough market capacity for all of them.