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 Colombia, the data is collected for the reference year 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 Colombia. For more information and the full research results, you can download the report by clicking on the links above.



As evidenced by Carlos Uribe in his writing "History of the Cooperative Movement", in the first decades of the twentieth century, a Colombian statesman, General Rafael Uribe, raised cooperative ideas as part of his thinking about democratic socialism of a humanistic nature, in a conference delivered at the Municipal Theater of Bogotá in October 1904 and in the speech published in the first number of the newspaper "El Liberal" in April 1911.

In 1916, during the administration of President José Vicente Concha, Benjamín Herrera, Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, presented the first cooperative project that is known to the Congress of the Republic, supporting it with reasons. that are still valid for the promotion of agricultural cooperatives in the country.

Around 1920, the Priest Adán Puerto, after a trip to Europe where he could directly appreciate the advances of the system, dedicated himself to spreading cooperative thinking and to indicating the need to unite union activity with that of cooperatives. The theses of the Boyacá priest were exposed in different ways and on several occasions: from 1921, in the Diocesan Bulletin of the city of Tunja; in the years 1922 and 1923, during the social studies days and from the El Vigía seminar that was also published in Tunja.



Colombia counts 11 ICA member organisations:

- Asociación Colombiana de Cooperativas (ASCOOP), is a full member and is an APEX organisation in Colombia.

- Casa Nacional del Profesor (CANAPRO), is a full member in the finance sector.

- Confederación de Cooperativas de Colombia (CONFECOOP), is a full member and is the APEX organisation in Colombia.

- Cooperativa Empresarial Multiactiva Popular (COEMPOPULAR), is a full member and an intersectoral national organization.

- Cooperativa del Magisterio (CODEMA), is a full member and an intersectoral national organization.

- Cooperativa Médica del Valle y de Profesionales de Colombia (COOMEVA), is a full member and an intersectoral national organization.

- La Equidad Seguros, is a full member in the insurance sector.

- Caja Cooperativa CREDICOOP (CREDICOOP), is a full member in the finance sector.

- Financiera PROGRESSA, is a full member in the finance sector.

- Banco Cooperativo COOPCENTRAL, is a full member in the finance sector.

- Asociación Nacional de Fondos de Empleados (ANALFE), is a full member and an intersectoral national organization.

- Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia (UCC), is an associate member in the cooperative promotion sector.

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 Colombia.



Current regulations, lead toward the principles, foundations and rights established within the National Constitution of 1991, however, the normative framework has a multidisciplinary regulation that precedes the new Constitutional Charter, Law 79 from 1988 by means of which the cooperative legislation is updated and which to date remains active and is the legal basis of the cooperative movement.

After the creation of the Constitutional Charter from 1991, the country recognized the entirety of the actors that converge in the ecosystem of a solidarity economy, as such, Law 454 from 1998 is established. This is the legal framework that updates and modifies some concepts and scopes within Law 79 from 1988 but does NOT repeal it, leaving it to stand firmly and with full autonomy for the cooperative movement.

Cooperatives in Colombia are regulated in the national legislation and have been framed within fundamental principles of the State reflected both in the constitutional objectives, as well as laws and regulatory decrees that have allowed the creation, coordination and monitoring of cooperatives in the country.


Cooperative Friendliness

As for members and reports from participating cooperatives, it has been identified that existing national legislation has more barriers than benefits, i.e. it turns out to be more against the cooperative movement in the country than in its favor. This is due, in part, to the lack of a strong institution with coherent functions and current practices that strengthen the cooperative movement within the country and that is under a relevant structure in decision making, for example, one that exists under the outline of the Presidency of the Republic.


Key recommendations for improvement

There have been institutional changes for the sector that need to be generated as soon as possible. Institutional strengthening must be an immediate priority, where the entity that carries out the promotion and implementation of public policy in the sector is dependent on the Presidency of the Republic. The creation of an affiliated department that can generate incidence is necessary, one that can carry out inter-institutional coordination to benefit the sector, that generates technical guidelines for the strengthening of the ecosystem and that has its own budget to promote the cooperative movement, the development of studies and technical documents to create policy guidelines, projects and programs that would benefit the ecosystem.



A measurement compounded of variables that can be evaluated annually to analyse the characteristics of the sector is considered necessary, for example: New cooperatives in Colombia, number of affiliates, type of affiliates, economic sectors and sample of the ecosystem, services offered and provided, among others, can help to better visualize the applicability of the regulation and growth of the ecosystem.

Advance towards the modernization of the normative, recognizing the nature of the sector as an inclusion factor, productive transformation and social change, that guarantees security and legal stability, taking Resolution 56/114 from the UN General Assembly of 2001 and Recommendation No. 193 of 2002 of the ILO as reference regarding the Promotion 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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