International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Co-operative Difference: Impact and Role of Research in Building Sustainable Co-operative Enterprises
Dr. Esther Gicheru, Kirianki M’Imanyara

Co-operatives are social and economic enterprises that owned and managed democratically by their members for their own benefit and their communities. Irrespective of the type enterprise, the Co-operative business model operates on the same values and principles that confer to their members the triple benefits of ownership, control and utility. Co-operatives seek to build good society guided by mutual cooperation, not competition; motivated by need to build moral character, not profits; creating human dignity, not wealth. The role of Co-operatives is to cater for the social and economic needs of society that the state, the private sector, big capitalist enterprises and small family businesses may not be able to satisfy. To be successful, Co-operatives must combine the desirable approaches of other enterprises such as the service spirit of the state, the efficiency of the capitalist enterprises, the entrepreneurial culture and independence of the private sector, and the proximity and social touch of family business. The Co-operative difference / advantage is the ability to contribute, simultaneously, towards the social and economic needs of their members and the society in general. Although the Co-operative form of enterprise and their success in many areas, the Co-operatives landscape in Africa is dotted with mountains of successful Co-operatives, underneath which, lie thousands of Co-operatives that have died with hopes of people with many others limping along between life and death hanging on lifelines held by their Governments, donors and NGOs. Therefore, Governments, development partners, private sector and civil society are called upon to accelerate their support towards the promotion of Co-operatives as sustainable enterprises that balance their development on social, economic and environmental pillars that characterized by responsible use of resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Despite the many setbacks faced over time, Co-operatives remain the enterprises of choice in many countries for the majority of people who want to satisfy their common needs by maximizing on economies of scale and the synergy that arises from joint action. However, further continuous research is a pre-requisite for the promotion and support of sustainable Co-operative enterprises around the world and particularly in Africa.

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