EghtesadOnline: The 13th International Conference of International Cooperative Alliance Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly concluded in Tehran on Friday.
The five-day event was attended by a host of top Iranian officials, including Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Mohammad Shariatmadari and the head of Iran Chamber of Cooperatives, Bahaman Abdollahi, according to Financial Tribune.
Some 170 foreign figures from 25 countries, including China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Argentina, Belgium, Kenya, Nigeria, Jordan, Palestine, Malaysia, Turkey, Italy, Canada, France and Poland, also participated in the event, Fars News Agency reported.
The theme for this year’s assembly was “Cooperatives Help Economies Become More Resilient and Sustainable”, the International Cooperatives Alliance reported.
The objectives were to showcase the contribution of cooperatives in helping economies become more resilient and sustainable, review progress and gaps in performance to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, survey the creation of an ecosystem with focus on cooperation among cooperatives in the region and build consensus for joint action, and adopt innovation in cooperative business for stability and growth.
The biennial Regional Assembly, represented by all members directly, is the highest authority of the ICA-Asia and Pacific (ICA-AP). The regional assembly is a central policymaking and representative body that brings together all members and provides them a platform to discuss multiple issues concerning development and growth of cooperatives as well as the opportunity to network and form bilateral and multilateral alliances for mutual benefit.
The ICA-AP Regional Assembly plays a vital role in strengthening the democratic governance process of cooperatives by building consensus on issues and passes the agenda after discussion to the satisfaction of all members.
Since the year 2000, the Cooperative Forum has been held in conjunction with the regional assembly to take advantage of the presence of a large number of participants from ICA-AP. The forum brings together stakeholders to assess progress, discuss challenges and arrive at decisions to strengthen cooperative enterprises as models of sustainable development.
A cooperative is a joint enterprise engaged in the production or distribution of goods or the supply of services, operated by its members for their mutual benefit, typically organized by consumers or farmers. Cooperative businesses are typically more economically resilient than many other forms of enterprise, with twice the number of cooperatives surviving their first five years compared with other business ownership models. Cooperatives pursue social goals aimed at investing a proportion of trading profits back into their communities.
The share of cooperatives sector in Iran’s gross domestic product stands at around 6%.
The Iranian Parliament has tasked the government with increasing the share of cooperatives in gross domestic product to 25% by the end of the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (March 2022). This share was also targeted by the Fifth Five-Year Development Plan (2011-16), but was never realized.
According to Deputy Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Hamid Kalantari, some 74 trillion rials (about $627 million) were paid in loans to cooperatives last year (March 2017-18) to support their activities.
According to latest data released by the Statistical Center of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare, during the seventh month of the current Iranian year (Sept. 23-Oct. 22), a total of 276 cooperatives with an initial investment of 41 billion rials ($277,027) were founded in Iran to register a 13% decline compared with the similar period of last year.
These cooperatives have around 4,474 members, creating an aggregate of 3,754 jobs, which indicate a year-on-year decline of 27% and 15% in the number of members and jobs, respectively.
Most of the cooperatives were established in Tehran (23), Khorasan Razavi (21) and Mazandaran (21). The lion’s share of the new enterprises was launched in the fields of agriculture (80) and industry (66).