Key figures

Number of cooperatives per sector
Employees and members per sector
Key figures
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 Chile, the data is collected for the reference year 2014 and 2017.

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



The cooperative movement in Chile arises as in most Latin American countries, as a manifestation of the labor or union movement, having as reference the European model. Thus, cooperativism was not born only to meet the specific needs of its members, but also constituted a response to the existing exclusionary and inequitable system.

The initial stream brought to the continent by European immigrants had different origins depending on the country. In Chile, the main influence was English, while in Argentina or Brazil it was Italian, French and German. In addition to European immigrants, the Catholic Church was also a relevant agent in promoting modern Latin American cooperativism, as well as local governments helped channel and disseminate public services and assistance to the most vulnerable.

In 1887, the first consumer cooperatives called "La Valparaíso" and "La Esmeralda" emerged in Valparaíso, based on the Mutual Aid Society of the Union of Typographers, an institution created in 1853 by the labor movement. Later, in 1904, the State Railroad Workers' Consumer Cooperative emerged, promoted by the State and driven by the workers. Between 1904 and 1924, 40 cooperative societies were registered in different sectors, prioritizing consumer ones



Chile counts 2 ICA member organisations:

- Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Chilena (COOPEUCH), is a full member in the finance sector.

Cooperativa Abierta de Vivienda Limitada (CONAVICOOP), is a full member in the housing sector.


In Chile the research questionnaire was distributed to and completed by 1 ICA member organisation. The data collected was for the reference year 2014 and 2017.

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 Chile.


The Chilean cooperative legislation is contained in Decree with force of Law No. 5, found in the General Law on Cooperatives, published in the Official Journal dated February 17, 2004, in the Regulations of the General Law on Cooperatives, contained in Supreme Decree No. 101, published in the Official Journal dated January 25, 2007, norms issued by the Department of Cooperatives currently the Associative Division and Social Economy, under the Sub-secretary of Economy and Smaller Enterprises, the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism and, standards dictated by the Central Bank of Chile contained in Chapter III.C.2, its compendium of financial rules.


Cooperative Friendliness

For cooperatives, compliance with the national legislation that governs them is not difficult, since, that the regulations do not have a degree of complexity, their terms are commonly used and the audit body within its powers when necessary has interpreted the rules and has given the corresponding instructions.


Key recommendations for improvement

  • Avoid the unfair treatment that exists between cooperatives and corporations.
  • To incorporate and recognize in the Political Constitution of the Republic the social function fulfilled by cooperatives.
  • Provide greater swiftness to the dictation of norms complementary to the law.
  • Regulate partner-consumer disputes found in the Consumer Rights Protection Law.



It should be noted that the National Congress is discussing a reform of the national tax system at the time this report was being drafted, which will review all exemptions and privileges that certain business entities are entitled to. Likewise, the executive branch is currently considering the drafting of a new Political Constitution of the Republic, an opportunity in which the cooperative sector will request the incorporation of the social purpose 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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