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. In Bolivia, the data is collected for the reference year 2018.

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



A 2012 ICA and ILO Joint Publication mentions that the genealogy of Andean cooperative work is based on the ayni (reciprocity) and on the ayllu (community site), ancestral pre-Hispanic forms of organization for social production, which preserve the structure of the Tahuantinsuyo empire, based on the economic unit-social cooperative work of the ayllu and its integration into the brand, a collectivist federative form.

As a result of these ancestral manifestations, in the 1930s and early 1940s, different development theses were elaborated on the traditional bases of associated work and pre-cooperative life. It is then when cooperativism begins to be established as a revolutionary and modern form of economic organization and is considered viable, on one hand, due to the easy conversion of indigenous communities into socialist cooperatives and, on the other, as part of the democratic bourgeois revolution.



Bolivia counts ICA member organisations:

- Cooperativa Rural de Electrificación R.L. (CRE), is a full member in the utilities sector.

Cooperativa de Telecomunicaciones Santa Cruz (COTAS Ltda.), is a full member in the utilities sector.

Cooperativa Boliviana de Cemento, Industrias y Servicios (COBOCE LTDA.), is a full member in the industry sector.

In Bolivia the research questionnaire was distributed to and completed by 1 ICA member organisation. The data collected was for the reference year 2018.


Legal framework

Legal framework
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 Bolivia.


The Bolivian cooperative legislation is contained in national law No. 356 called the General Law on Cooperatives published in the Official Journal of Bolivia on April 11, 2013, and the Regulations of the General Law of Cooperatives put into effect by Decree No. 1995 of May 13, 2014. It should be clarified that, although it is a decentralized country with autonomy, by constitutional mandate on the basis of the residual clause, substantive and adjective legislation on cooperative matters falls within the competence of the central level of the State; providing, as exclusive competence of the central level of the State, basic services policies, that is, that this level of government in this area has legislative, regulatory and executive authority, being able to transfer and delegate the latter two.


Cooperative Friendliness

To obtain approval of resolutions or regulations, there is an exaggerated bureaucracy that, compared to a private company, makes obtaining legal status more complicated. The Political Constitution of the State, Laws and Regulations to the Law, are good, except that they do not contemplate associated work cooperatives.

The State's Political Constitution considers the cooperative sector in 12 articles. There, it promotes the purchase and participation of the cooperative sector, even in sectors where the state closes participation in the particular private sector. Likewise, the law and regulation are very favorable in their drafting, lacking only processes of practical applicability. For the promotion of cooperatives, there is even a state body, which is the Directorate of Public Policy and Cooperative Development. It is important to note that the drafting of the Law on Cooperatives of Bolivia, had the direct participation of the cooperative sectors, who developed proposals in all its articles.

Notwithstanding the above issues, Bolivian legislation is very much in favor of cooperatives.


Key recommendations for improvement

  • The creation of specific legislation for the sector of associated work cooperatives is necessary.
  • Special legislation on administrative procedures, where the operational practice is contemplated in order to shorten the response times from the state to the sector's processes, as well as the training of the population and the state within the model.
  • The insertion of tax incentives, the sector does not differ from others in this aspect and even has double taxes in some cases.
  • Legislation incorporating Associated Work Cooperatives is required.
  • It is important that cooperatives also have their own sectoral legislation.



It should be noted that we only have the responses of one ICA member, which is generally consistent with the expert's opinion, so its integration into the report has not had setbacks. In any event, the different declarations and documents drawn up by the cooperative movement in recent times have also been taken into account, whether they are general in nature or referenced particularly to certain sectors.




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. 

Subscribe to Bolivia