Key figures

Number of cooperatives 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 Ecuador, the data is collected for the reference years 2018 and 2019.

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



In the origins and consolidation of the Ecuadorian cooperative movement, at least three fundamental stages can be distinguished:

a) The first began approximately in the last decade of the 19th century when a series of craft and mutual aid organizations were created -especially in Quito and Guayaquil-.

b) the second begins in 1937, the year in which the first Cooperatives Law was issued with the purpose of giving greater organizational scope to the peasant movements, modernizing their productive and administrative structure, through the use of the cooperative model.

c) the third stage began in the mid-sixties with the issuance of the Agrarian Reform Law and the Cooperatives Law.

The first mutual organizations that emerged in the country, at the end of the 19th century, were characterized by being union and multifunctional entities; their autonomy from the Catholic Church and from political parties varied from case to case, but was generally precarious.



Ecuador counts 2 ICA member organisations:

- Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Policía Nacional (CPN), is a full member in the finance sector.

- Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Río Bamba Ltda. (COAC Río Bamba), is a full member in the finance sector.

In Ecuador the research questionnaire was distributed to and completed by 2 ICA member organisations. The data collected was for the reference years 2018 and 2019.

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 Ecuador.


In Ecuador, the regulations that govern cooperatives, are contained in several legal entities, the main one being the Organic Law on Popular and Solidarity Economy – LOEPS (for its acronym in Spanish), issued through publication in the Official Register number 444 of May 10, 2011 and last reformed on October 23, 2018.

It is important to point out that the National Constitution, mentions in Article 319 that: "The service initiatives of the popular and solidarity financial sector, and of the micro, small and medium-sized productive units, will receive differentiated and preferential treatment from the State, in accordance with the extent to which they propel the development of popular and solidarity economy." Because of this constitutional precept, cooperatives, as part of the sector of the popular and solidarity economy, must receive preferential treatment compared to other organizations, which has helped cooperatives to seek their growth and development.


Cooperative Friendliness

The first aspect highlighted is that the initiatives of the cooperatives that are part of the  popular and solidarity economy, according to the National Constitution, must receive differentiated and preferential treatment from the State; however this has been partly fulfilled, as state support has been minimal for cooperative organizations.

There are also several contradictions within the Organic Law on Popular and Solidarity Economy and its regulation, and the Organic Monetary and Financial Code, the Resolutions and provisions of the Superintendence of Popular and Solidarity Economy and the Monetary and Financial Policy Board and other general norms, which considerably affect the cooperative sector.


Key recommendations for improvement

Several cooperatives and integration organisms have been working to improve the cooperative legal framework, especially in this latest year 2019, so that current limits in the norms are corrected and harmonized with the reality of the sector; the most important proposals obtained from the workshops and forums carried out in the country are the following:

•    Work so that cooperatives have their own law, separating them from other social organizations that do not adhere to cooperative principles.
•    Carry out a comprehensive reform to the Organic Law on Popular and Solidarity Economy and its regulation
•    Achieve a different level of supervision for the savings and credit cooperatives in virtue of the nature of its business
•    Establish under the law that cooperatives are businesses subject to private law, so that the State respects the decisions of its governing bodies, without threatening the current norms



It should be noted that cooperatives in Ecuador, based on regulation and subsequent supervision, have had a remarkable development; however, in recent years, this progress has been slowed down by instability and constant changes in the control entity and its authorities.

It is the duty of the state to ensure the motivation and respect of the constitutional precept of giving preference to the cooperative sector over other sectors that currently have more opportunities and support than the social economy itself.




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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