A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united, voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. They are vehicles for sustainable development through job creation; generation of economic activities; enhancement of social protection; and improvement of the voice and representation of vulnerable groups in society. Cooperatives in Africa are considered as a well-established method of poverty alleviation and development on the continent.

 

Cooperatives in Africa outshine other forms of economic organisations because of their complimentary nature to African history, traditions and customs. Cooperatives in Africa perform exceptionally well on the continent because they simulate the African value system of “Ubuntu”. Ubuntu plainly put means humanness, cooperation and togetherness. Ubuntu is an African philosophy based on cooperation, coexistence and consensus. Ubuntu stems from the Nguni proverb ‘umuntu ngumuntu ngabatu’ (often translated as ‘a person is a person through other persons’). Second, African traditional law is centered on group rights versus individual rights found in Western societies. Here cooperatives mirror the concept of ‘group work’ that is deeply embedded in African traditions and laws. Self-help groups that embodied virtues of cooperation, mutuality, reciprocity and solidarity were prevalent in pre-colonial African societies and to that effect these virtues are not new to Africans. The common principles in African cooperatives make them uniquely distinct from other group organisations. Cooperatives in Africa are guided by the following principles: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among co-operatives; concern for community. Cooperatives in Africa have the potential to touch and empower vulnerable groups in society, particularly women and youth.

 

Cooperatives can be found all over the world. Here are some local African names for cooperatives:

 

  • Benin: Asusu, Yissirou, Ndjonu, Tontine
  • Botswana: Motshelo, beer parties
  • Burkina Faso: Tontine, Tibissiligbi, Pari, Song-taaba
  • Burundi: Upato (in Kiswahili)
  • Cameroon: Jangi, Ujangi, Djana, Mandjon, Djapa, Tontine, Djanggi, Njanggi, Ngwa, Ntchwa
  • Egypt: Gameya, Jam’iyya
  • Ethiopia: Ekub, Ikub
  • Gabon: Bandoi
  • The Gambia: Osusu, susu, esusu, Compin
  • Ghana: Susu, Nanamei akpee, Onitsha, Nnoboa
  • Ivory Coast: Tonton, Tontine, Moni, Diaou Moni, War Moni, Djigi Moni, Safina, Akpole wule, Susu, Aposumbo, Kukule, a tche le sezu, Komite, n’detie, m’bgli sika, Monu, mone
  • Kenya: Mabati, Nyakinyua, Itega, Mkutano ya wanwake, Mkutano ya wazee
  • Liberia: Esusu, susu, sau
  • Madagascar: Fokontany
  • Mali: Pari
  • Mozambique: Upato, Xitique
  • Niger: Adasse, Tomtine, Asusu
  • Nigeria: Esusu, Osusu, Enusu, Ajo (Yoruba), Cha (Ibo), Oha, Oja, Adashi (Haussa, Tiv), Bam (Tiv), Isusu (Ot), Utu (Ibo), Dashi (Nupe), Efe (Ibibios), Oku (Kalabari Ijawas), Mitiri, Compiri, Club (Ibo)
  • Congo, PR: Temo, Kitemo, Ikilemba, Kikedimba, Kikirimbahu, Likilimba, Efongo Eambongo, Otabaka, Ekori, Otabi
  • Senegal: Tontine, Nath
  • Sierra Leone: Asusu, Esusu
  • Somalia: Haghad, Shaloongo, Aiuto
  • South Africa: Chita, Chitu, Stokfel, Stockfair, Mahodisana, Motshelo, Umangelo
  • Sudan: Khatta, Sanduk, Sandook Box
  • Swaziland: Stokfel
  • Tanzania: Upato, Fongongo
  • Tchad: Pare
  • Togo: Soo, Tonton, Sodzodzo, Sodyodyo, Abo
  • Tunisia: Noufi, Sanduk
  • Uganda: Chilemba, Kiremba, Upato, Kwegatta
  • Zaire: Ikelemba, Osassa, Bandoi, Kitemo, Kitwadi, Adashi, Tontine, Bandal
  • Zambia: Icilimba, Upato, Chilenba
  • Zimbabwe: Chilemba, Stockfair, Kutunderrera

 

She is Africa is a free, informative website. If you find value in any of my content, please consider making a donation to keep She is Africa running.