Published On: Tue, Jul 26th, 2016

SA looks to Italy to grow co-ops

DEPUTY MINISTER ELIZABETH THABETHE, MPJOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa is looking to replicate an Italian region where co-operatives produce a third of its gross domestic product, Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Elizabeth Thabethe, has said.

She was speaking in Johannesburg at a recent forum graced by an Italian delegation from Emilia Romagna. The African Financial Group organised the seminar.

Emilia Romagna, a region with nearly 4,5 million people, whose capital Bologna, has one of the densest cooperative economies in the world. About two out of every three inhabitants are co-op members, together producing around 30 percent of the region’s GDP.

Thabethe revealed there were currently 124 143 registered cooperatives locally, a demonstration South Africans are aware of the cooperative as a business form.

“However, our awareness and support efforts also need to be refocused on promoting cooperatives as sustainable businesses,” said Thabethe.

The Italian delegation’s visit coincided with South Africa recently celebrating the International Cooperatives Day, marking the 11th time South Africa hosted and participated in this global programme to recognize efforts by Cooperatives through the world.

In 2007, the South African government kept the cooperatives thrust on the policy agenda with reference to interventions required to address the second economy.

The Minister acknowledged globally cooperatives as a vehicle through which all people can interact and engage in decisions that affect their social and economic well-being and eradicate poverty.

“In South Africa, they are in all the sectors of the economy and exist under various guises; some refer to them as self –help groups, mutual societies and village banks,” said Thabethe
CAJ News

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