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International Organisation of Industrial and Service Co-operatives (CICOPA) has recently published a new “Global Study on Youth Co-operative Entrepreneurship”, as part of its campaign “We own it! The future of work is ours”.

The study is based on desk research and on an online survey involving 64 youth co-operatives in the five continents and shows how – in a world of work deeply reshaped by demographic changes, globalisation, technological innovations and youth unemployment – co-operatives can be a concrete tool in the hands of young people for improving their work and entrepreneurship conditions.

The study reveals a quite fresh and dynamic picture of youth co-operatives who took part in the survey. They are primarily active in the service sector and are highly involved in activities requiring a certain degree of training, specialised knowledge and skills (e.g. telecommunications and information technologies, programming, legal and accounting activities, management, consultancy, research, marketing etc.). In most cases, they are micro or small-sized enterprises and have reported a positive economic performance and increasing or stable trends in job creation in recent years. They reveal gender equity in management positions and are extremely keen to implement new organisational methods in their business practices (e.g. workplace organisation and governance practices).

Their co-operative choice is justified by a mix of value-based and pragmatic motivations: meaningful work (to “work differently”), experience and values-related aspirations, but also concrete need for stable jobs, career opportunities and protection. This picture, albeit partial, strongly suggests that youth co-operatives are riding the wave of changes and represent a valuable and secure option for young entrepreneurs.

The global study also shows how co-operatives can play a crucial role in responding to new challenges introduced by recent work and economic transformations affecting new generations. For example, they can “inject” democracy and participation inside the digital economy, by giving ownership and control of power to the people who use and work through online platforms. Through their participatory governance, they are a laboratory in the hands of young people for the experimentation of innovative and sustainable forms of work management.

However, concludes the study, co-operatives cannot be considered a panacea. Besides the important and increasing involvement coming from the co-operative movement to answer to youth needs, co-operatives are only able to display their full potential if a favourable institutional environment surrounds them. This is particularly true when it comes to providing quality employment and entrepreneurship, which is highly dependent on the institutional frameworks regulating co-operatives, the legal status of young workers and worker-members, but also access to financial resources and user-friendly bureaucracy.

The full report can be accessed here.


The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) together with the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) will be working together to conduct an 8-month study entitled “Strategy for developing and promoting worker and social co-operatives in Singapore” with CICOPA.

The study will be conducted with methods of desk works and a field research, which will involve local partners and experts. It started in June this year and it is hoped that the study will provide information on different national contexts for the development of industrial and service co-operatives so that stakeholders in Singapore might identify appropriate models for their own context.



CICOPA is the international organisation of industrial and service co-operatives and represents 65.000 worker, social and producers’ co-operatives providing 4 million jobs across the world. CICOPA currently has members in 32 countries and 2 regional organisations: CECOP – CICOPA Europe and CICOPA Americas.
For more information: visit

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