Puerto Rico

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



According to the Institute of Cooperativism of the University of Puerto Rico, the origins of cooperativism in Puerto Rico go back to the time of the Taino Indians, who worked, cultivated and harvested the land, thus also hunted and collaborated with all the tasks of the yucayeque in set. Later, the jíbaros organized “meetings” or mutual aid groups to cultivate and harvest the land. This product was not paid for but was exchanged among the settlers.

Upon reaching the 19th century, the cooperative doctrine began to spread on the island, being strongly supported and promoted by leaders from all sectors of the country.



Puerto Rico counts ICA member organisations:

- Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Dr. Manuel Zeno Gandía, is a full member in the finance sector.

Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito de Arecibo (COOPACA), is a full member in the finance sector.

Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico, is a full member in the insurance sector.

Liga de Cooperativas de Puerto Rico (LIGACOOP),is a full member and is the APEX organisation in Puerto Rico.

Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Vega Alta (VEGACOOP), is a full member in the finance sector.

- Banco Cooperativo de Puerto Rico (Bancoop), is a full member in the finance sector.

In Puerto Rico the research questionnaire was distributed to and completed by 2 ICA member organisations. The data collected was for the reference year 2017.


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 Puerto Rico.



In the Constitution of Puerto Rico, there is no reference to cooperativism, nor to the principles of social justice and economic democracy that we associate with the recognition of a sector of the social and solidarity economy. Therefore, the rules on the regulation of cooperativism in PR are of legislative and administrative origin. It is divided into three main areas. First, we have a General Law of Cooperative Corporations (LGC for its acronym in Spanish), Law 239 of September 1, 2004, which gathers the doctrinal foundations of cooperativism, establishes its basic operational structure and also harbors some special provisions.


Cooperative Friendliness

Public policy in PR seeks to promote cooperativism. However, due to the automatic and other tax benefits mentioned in the legal analysis, the processes of incorporating these are not so simple. To balance both interests, a whole range of institutional supports have been created for the establishment and promotion  of cooperatives.


Key recommendations for improvement

  • Facilitate the incorporation processes, providing so that the initial qualification of a cooperative, can be channeled through more agile entities in its actions (such as the League of Cooperatives or FIDECOOP (for its acronym in Spanish); rather than limiting that aspect to CDCOOP.
  • Improve the definition of key concepts such as the "Cooperative Act", the "Cooperative Law", the "Limited Interest to Capital", among others mentioned.
  • Define with more specificity the regulations applicable to cooperatives of superior grade.
  • Review the absolute prohibition on for-profit legal entities being able to be members of cooperative ventures, in areas where individual partner ventures are generally structured by this route.



Puerto Rico has extensive legislation that allows the organization of different types of cooperative ventures, and contains the necessary support instruments for the promotion and strengthening of the sector; which, not withstanding, is not exempt to being able to be improved according to the recommendations made in the study.




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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