Key figures

Number of cooperatives 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 worldwide. 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. Each office collected the input of ICA members present in the countries within its geographic area, by using the same questionnaire, and completing it with relevant national statistics, in order to obtain an accurate picture of the national situation. 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 them tools for positive change.

This webpage presents a snapshot of the research results for Vanuatu. For more information, you can download the full report and the highlights here.



The cooperative movement goes back to the 1960s when Vanuatu was still called New Hebrides. During this time, cooperatives were given monopoly over the import of certain commodities. Following independence in 1980, cooperatives remained active in many islands, but there was progressive weakening due to withdrawal of government support and increased competition from private players. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of cooperatives with large membership bases who are able to survive in the current business environment. The government is now looking to stabilise smaller cooperatives by helping them to diversify while pushing for more producer and fishing cooperatives. 



ICA has one member from Vanuatu.

In Vanuatu, the research questionnaire was distributed to and completed by 1 ICA member organisation in the country. The data collected was for the reference year 2019.




ICA member represents 314 cooperatives in the country, with 12,846 members and 403 employees.

Cooperatives are present across diverse sectors in Vanuatu including agriculture and food, finance, wholesale and retail trade among others.


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 Vanuatu.



The main cooperative law in Vanuatu is the Co-operative Societies Act. It came into force in July 1987. This law is an example of the British Indian Pattern of Co-operatives (BIPC) model, which was built to serve as a rural economic development tool. The Co-operative Societies Act is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of cooperative types including consumer, producer, worker, and financial cooperatives. The act doesn’t make any reference to social cooperatives, but it does provide for the establishment of school cooperatives.


Main laws relevant to cooperatives in Vanuatu

Co-operative Societies Act [CAP 152]

Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Act No. 10 of 2011

Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act No. 34 0f 2017

Co-operative Societies Rules Order No. 37 of 1987

Co-operative Societies (Co-operative Development Fund) Rules Order No. 1 of 2000

Co-operative Societies Rules (Amendment) Order No. 23 of 2001

Cooperative Societies (Cooperative Development Fund Rules) (Amendment) Order No. 11 of 2006

Co-operative Societies Rules (Amendment) Order No. 106 of 2018

By-laws for Co-operative Consumers and Marketing Society Limited

By-laws for Co-operative Savings and Loans Society Limited


Vanuatu’s cooperative legal framework includes general and specific application of some of the cooperative principles.


Cooperative friendliness

The Co-operative Societies Act [CAP 152] is more cooperative unfriendly than friendly because the law has not been adapted in any way to the cultural, economic and social circumstances of Vanuatu and it's plural legal system. Instead, it’s based on a template law known as the British Indian Pattern of Co-operation (BIPC).


Key recommendations for improvement

  • Definition of a cooperative to provide a clear identity for cooperatives in Vanuatu.
  • Need for a reference to cooperative principles as a guideline for both internal governance and external regulation.
  • Also, a review of the functions of the Registrar is needed to relieve the same of the regulatory burdens and to encourage self-regulation of cooperatives.
  • Revised legislation to give more attention to the formation and support of school cooperatives with a possible reduction in minimum age say 13 years.



While Vanuatu’s current cooperative law is outdated and undergoing revision, the Registry has been active in renewing and refreshing cooperative policy with the adoption of a 5-year National Competition Policy (2017 – 2022), supported by a 3-year business plan and annual work plan.


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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