Centering cooperatives and cooperative identity within the social and solidarity economy: Views from the Asia-Pacific cooperative apexes and federations
Journal of Co-operative Organization and Management 9 (2021) 1 001 45
The initiatives on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) have gained momentum in Asia-Pacific and are actively pursued by civil society, taken up in policy discussions, and advocated by international bodies. Cooperatives which constitute the largest base in the SSE have been working on the basis of their identity since the 1830s. Many of the emerging SSE initiatives are close to cooperatives in their governance and management. This paper presents perspectives of cooperative apexes/federations from India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines and South Korea who represent close to 140 million members on the SSE. While the overall outlook of regional cooperatives towards engagement within the SSE is positive, their involvement is limited. The strength of cooperatives lies in their history, presence across countries and sectors, and the Cooperative Identity. However, the perception about cooperatives and their chequered performance is seeing the rise of SSE organi- sations (SSEOs). Cooperatives as people-centred organisations with a strong foundation in their identity, have the power to steer SSE initiatives in the post-pandemic world. This paper makes the case for centering cooperatives and Cooperative Identity within the SSE but is limited to the views of nine cooperative apexes/federations from seven countries. It could also have benefited from the direct views of non-cooperative SSEOs on cooperatives. Further research can look into how cooperatives and non-cooperative SSEOs can collaborate to strengthen SSE and the opportunities and bottlenecks for people-centred businesses post COVID-19.