Key figures

Number of cooperatives per sector
Employees and members per sector
Key figures

Research overview


Responding to challenges and existing knowledge gaps facing the cooperative movement, this mapping research seeks to provide exhaustive information on cooperatives around the world.

This is achieved through a process jointly conducted by the ICA and its four regional offices – Cooperatives of the Americas, Cooperatives Europe, ICA Africa, and ICA Asia-Pacific – using a common methodology, designed with the support of external experts from the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse).

Each office collected the input of ICA members present in the countries within its geographic area, by using a common questionnaire, and completing it with relevant national statistics, in order to obtain a picture of the national situation. As a result, the data above is collected following two strategies: 1) a survey targeting ICA cooperative members 2) collecting national statistics already available in the country. The numbers above provide aggregated data from ICA members on the number of cooperatives, as well as the number of cooperative employees and memberships in the country. More methodological information is available in the full report.

Mapping out cooperatives in each country provides a more precise picture of the cooperative context at national and regional levels, enhances the movement's visibility, networking, partnerships opportunities, as well as advocacy, and empowers cooperators by providing tools for positive change.

This webpage presents a snapshot of the research results for Eswatini. For more information and the full research results, you can download the highlights and the report by clicking on the links above.




Cooperatives in Eswatini started in 1964 when the first Cooperative Proclamation was introduced, during the Colonial Regime. The main objective for encouragement of cooperatives was to promote rural development for indigenous Swazi farmers.



Eswatini counts one ICA associate member organization, The Eswatini Farmers’ Cooperative Union (ESWAFCU). ESWAFCU is a farmers’ and multipurpose cooperative and it represent members from various industries to include: livestock, forestry, crops & vegetables, processing, manufacturing, handicraft, manufacturing and retail. It represents 84 cooperative organizations and 2,500 members.

The cooperative movement in Eswatini comprises of 579 registered cooperatives and 64,591 members.

Legal framework

Legal framework


The legal framework analysis aims to provide general knowledge of the national cooperative legislation and of its main characteristics and contents, with particular regard to those aspects of regulation regarding the identity of cooperatives and its distinction from other types of business organisations, notably the for-profit shareholder corporation.

It aims to evaluate whether the national legislation in place supports or hampers the development of cooperatives, and is therefore “cooperative friendly” or not, and the degree to which it may be considered so, also in comparison to the legislation in force in other countries of the ICA region, or at the supranational level.

In addition, the research aims to provide recommendations for eventual renewal of the legal frameworks in place in order to understand what changes in the current legislation would be necessary to improve its degree of “cooperative friendliness”, which is to say, to make the legislation more favourable to cooperatives, also in consideration of their specific identity. This webpage presents a snapshot of the legal framework analysis results for Eswatini.


Cooperatives in Eswatini are registered and operating under the Cooperatives Societies Act, 2003 and Cooperative Societies Regulations 2005.

Main Regulations relevant to cooperatives in Eswatini




Cooperative Societies Act, 2003

Applies to all cooperatives.

There is a Bill in place amending this Act

Cooperative Societies Regulations, 2005

Applies to all cooperatives.

Regulations in conjunction with the Cooperative Societies Act, 2003

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority Act, 2010

Financial services including those offered by SACCOS.

This Act in section 83 (1) ousts the Department of Cooperative Development’s mandate in regulating financial aspects of


Guidelines for Savings and Credit Cooperatives: issued under the FSRA Act 2010.

Financial services offered by SACCOS.

These are the guidelines which FSRA uses to regulate SACCOs

The Consumer Credit Act, 2016

Ministry of Finance

This is an Act to provide for the regulation of consumer credit in the country

National Co-operatives Development Guidelines and Directives, July 2019.

Ministry of Commerce Industry and Trade

Guidelines and Directives issued by the Commissioner for Co-operative Development in terms of regulation 72 of the Co-operative Societies Act, 2003


Cooperative friendliness

The Cooperatives Act creates a conducive environment for the development of cooperatives in the country. Besides, the National Co-operative Development Policy, 2017, recognizes cooperatives as instruments for social-economic development which focuses on associative economic strategy as a key factor for enabling more people to participate in creation, expansion and operation of viable and sustainable enterprises.  However, there is an un-denied fact of over regulation of cooperatives in the country, in particular SACCOs.  This places the friendliness of the cooperative legislation wanting.


Key recommendations for improvement 

The national legal framework is well-crafted even though there are some challenges still in place. In order for the national legislation to be more adequate for the development of cooperatives, reforms are needed to:

  • Establish a mechanism (e.g. a specific fund) for assisting newly registered cooperatives to access startup capital;
  • Address the issue of high levies on SACCOS charged by the FSRA;
  • Harmonize the roles of the Cooperative Development Department and the FSRA with regard to regulation of SACCOS;
  • Address issues of mismanagement of funds in cooperatives which is a chronic challenge facing cooperatives across the country; and
  • Review the term of office for Management Committee (Board of Directors) in order to ensure efficiency and effective leadership succession in cooperatives



Cooperatives receive the necessary support from the government and operate in compliance with the governing legislation, cooperative principles and values. The government recognizes the potential of cooperatives to operate in various sectors of the economy throughout the country and made an undertaking to ensure the legal framework on formation of cooperatives in various sectors of the economy is in place. This is demonstrated by the ongoing review of the Cooperative Societies Act, 2003, currently at the stage of a Bill which has been tabled for debate in Parliament to enhance efficiency & effectiveness in regulation and management of cooperatives.




The legal frameworks analysis is a tool developed under the ICA-EU Partnership #coops4dev. It is an overview of the national legal frameworks at the time of writing. The views expressed within are not necessarily those of the ICA, nor does a reference to any specific content constitute an explicit endorsement or recommendation by the ICA. 

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