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



Uruguayan cooperativism is clearly related to European immigration in the mid and late nineteenth century, and to the waves of the first years of the twentieth century. Immigration characterized in many cases by being linked to the emerging workers 'organizations in the old continent, from which the first workers' associations, unions, mutuals and resistance organizations were founded in the country. Some of the experiences identified from that germinal stage are the First Spanish Society of Mutual Aid (1853), the Society for Mutual Aid of Typographic Workers (1870), as well as the Rural Development Societies, the Rural Savings Banks, and the Popular Savings Banks.

The first Uruguayan cooperatives emerged from solidarity organizations focused on the autonomous provision of services, or on the collective provision of jobs. In 1903 the Cooperativa Obrera de Consumption del Frigorífico Liébig de Fray Bentos was founded and in 1909 the consumer cooperative "La Unión" was formed, made up of textile workers from Juan Lacaze, inaugurating a cycle of concretion of several other cooperatives of this type linked to different unions or labor groups.



Uruguay counts ICA member organisations:

- Confederación Uruguaya de Entidades Cooperativas (CUDECOOP), is a full member and is the APEX organisation in Uruguay.

- Cooperativas Nacionales Financieras Aliadas en Red (CONFIAR), is a full member in the finance sector.

- Cámara Uruguaya de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito y Capitalización (CUCACC), is a full member in the finance sector.

Instituto Nacional del Cooperativismo (INACOOP), is an associate member dedicated to cooperative promotion.

In Uruguay the research questionnaire was distributed to and completed by 1 ICA member organisation. 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 Peru.



In Uruguay, the General Cooperative Law No. 18,407 (GCL), published in the Official Gazette on 11/11/2008 unified the legal regime of all kinds of cooperatives. By law 19.181, published on 01/20/2014, some modifications were introduced to the GCL. Likewise, the provisions of the Law on Commercial Companies 16.060 are applied in addition to cooperatives if compatible, as provided in art. 4 of the LGC.

For its part, the Uruguayan Constitution does not include programmatic or interest clauses about cooperatives, there is only a marginal reference in section 3 of art. 188, stating that the State can “participate in industrial, agricultural or commercial activities of companies formed by workers, cooperatives or private capital contributions”.


Cooperative Friendliness

In recent years the legislation has helped consolidate the institutionality of the cooperative movement, by providing for its participation in INACOOP, in the National Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (INEFOP), in Fondes-Inacoop and in the National System of Productive Transformation and Competitiveness

In general, there is coincidence regarding the merit of the LGC and that the legislation is in favor of cooperatives, but there are still areas where they are not recognized as fully valid actors (especially in the political and bureaucratic field); It would be the case of financial activities in general.


Key recommendations for improvement

•    Recognition of the Cooperative Act as the axis for the treatment of cooperatives in fiscal matters, as well as in general for the different instruments related to cooperatives.
•    Recognition of cooperatives as not subject to Income Tax (IRAE), instead of considering them exempt, since this treatment means only a legal concession. And review what is related to taxing with the personal income tax the return of social shares and the distribution of surpluses.
•    In a constitutional reform incorporate the recognition and support of cooperativism and social economy.



A bill of social and solidarity economy law was recently approved in the House of Representatives, being its fundamental basis a draft project presented to public opinion by INACOOP in mid-2017 to: “Promote the study and research of other forms of social and solidarity economy and make proposals on its scope and regulation ”. The half-sanction project recognizes cooperatives as the main legal figure and, at the same time, refers to the application of the universal principles of cooperativism.




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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