Key figures

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 Lesotho. For more information and the full research results, you can download the highlights and the report by clicking on the links above.




In 1931, the first cooperative buying syndicate was formed which was reportedly destroyed by the managerial problems and lack of experience. In 1933 there was an increase in the promotion and formation of cooperatives across the country. These cooperatives thrived although there was no regulatory framework at the time. It was until the Cooperative Societies Proclamation Act No. 47 of 1948 was enacted and cooperatives were formally registered.


Lesotho counts 1 ICA member organization; Cooperative Lesotho (Coop Lesotho)

Coop Lesotho is an apex organization that represents 3,307 members excluding the 10,000 SACCO memberships in the credit union league.

The cooperative movement in Lesotho comprises of 99 registered cooperatives (excluding SACCOs) and 9,092 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 Lesotho.


In Lesotho, the Cooperative Societies Act, 2000 and Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act 2014, unifies the legal regime for all kinds of cooperatives.


Main regulations

This table displays a selection of cooperative regulations identified by experts and ICA members. For the full analysis including all relevant regulations, see the full report.


Brief Description

Cooperative Societies Act, 2000 

This Act repealed the Cooperative Socieities (Protection) Act no. 10 of 1966 and the Cooperative Societies Proclamation no. 67 of 1948.

Cooperative Societies Amendment Act 2014

For all cooperatives

Financial Institutions Act 2012 

For large financial cooperatives

Financial Institution (Licensing Requirements) Regulations, 2016

For large financial cooperatives



Cooperative friendliness

The National cooperative legislation is characterized by obstacles that may not create a favorable legal environment for cooperatives to thrive.  Specific barriers include the fact that while the Cooperatives Act gives autonomy to cooperative societies to state their objectives in their by-laws; then again, the same robs the members of their benefit of self-regulation encapsulated in the autonomy and independence principle of cooperatives.


Key recommendations for improvement 

(i) the powers of the Commissioner should be reduced (ii) cooperative financing should be only to the extent or decision by members and their competent staff (iii) liquidation of cooperatives should be referred to competent courts (iv) in dispute resolution, where the Commissioner has or can be proved to have conflict of interest, there should be guiding provisions in the Cooperative Act. (v) the autonomy of cooperatives to appoint its auditors without need for approval of Commissioner should be protected.



The cooperative movement in Lesotho has experienced setbacks brought about by unsupportive legislation and excessive regulation for many years. The legal framework analysis has identified areas that need urgent attention by legislators if cooperatives are to flourish in Lesotho. The ICA cooperative principles must be the backbone of friendly cooperative legislation. Members must feel independent and in charge of their own cooperative enterprises and take the praise for their success or the blame for their failures without pointing fingers to the legal provisions or the Commissioner.




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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