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 Rwanda.



In 2007 the Law N° 50/2007 of 18/09/2007 (Law N° 50, 2007) determining the establishment, organization and functioning of cooperative organizations in Rwanda, was enacted to provide for the establishment, organization and functioning of cooperative organizations in Rwanda. Besides, in 2013, the Law n° 48/2013 of 28/06/2013 (Law N° 48, 2013) was enacted to establish the Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) and determine its mission, organization and functions.

In addition, there are instructions of 2018 regulating interventions of stakeholders/partners in the development of the cooperative sector, and those of 2013 prescribing the Code of Conduct for members of governing organs of cooperatives and their senior executives


Cooperative friendliness

From the view of ICA contributing member organizations, The Government of Rwanda has put in place a conducive environment for the development of the cooperative movement in recognition of its contribution to the attainment of national development goals for economic and social transformation. The institutional framework for the cooperative movement in Rwanda is designed to enable cooperatives to operate efficiently, effectively and sustainably.

Both the National Policy on Cooperatives of 2018 and the Law N° 50, 2007 on cooperatives recognize cooperatives in line with the cooperative values and principles as proclaimed by the International Cooperative Alliance.


Key recommendations for improvement

The following recommendations are made for the improvement of the national legal framework:


  • The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) should embark on addressing management and corruption challenges which undermine the development of cooperatives in Rwanda. The Ministry and the Rwanda Cooperative Agency should perform their oversight roles more regularly and rigorously.
  • There is a need to strengthen the current coordination system to avoid duplication of cooperatives within the sector and ensure adequate representation and advocacy roles.
  • Encouraging and ensuring cooperation among cooperatives will strengthen the capacity of cooperatives to grow.
  • There is a need to improve mechanisms of accountability.



In conclusion, cooperatives in Rwanda operate according to the law guided by the cooperative values and principles. Cooperatives are organized into Unions, Federations and Confederations which allow them to achieve their common goals.

Cooperatives were severely affected by the 1994 Genocide. Nevertheless, since 2005 the Government of Rwanda has been taking measures to revamp the state of cooperatives. Such measures include putting in place revival mechanisms such as establishment of the Task force in charge of promoting the cooperative movement to facilitate the development of cooperatives.

The government recognizes the contribution of cooperatives in socioeconomic development through employment creation and payment of taxes. Moreover, members of cooperatives can easily access loans from savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) at subsidized interest rates


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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