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Cooperatives Division (under the aegis Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives)
Cooperatives Division>Cooperative Movement>The Mauritian Cooperative Movement

The Mauritian Cooperative Movement

Mauritius adopted the cooperative formula at the dawn of the 20th century in order to alleviate poverty amongst some sections of the population.
The first cooperative society was registered in the sugar-cane sector in 1913 to reduce the dependence of the small cane planters on private money lenders and brokers.  These cooperative societies (Co-operative Credit Societies) were set up to provide credit and marketing facilities to the small cane planters. 
People recognized the potential of cooperatives in enabling them to improve their standard of living and moving up the social ladder.
With time, cooperatives diversified and after more than 100 years of existence, the movement has expanded considerably and encompasses many different socio-economic activities. 
Cooperatives in Mauritius consist of about 85,000 members grouped in some 1072 cooperative societies and having a turnover nearing Rs5.5 billion.
·         Increasing bargaining power
·        Sharing cost of production
·        Empowerment of members
·        Gaining access to new markets
·        Sharing of risks
·        Purchasing in bulk to achieve lower prices
·        Providing credit under reasonable terms
·        Providing opportunities for employment
Structure and Organisation of the Co-operative Movement
The Organization of Cooperative Societies
·       Cooperative societies in Mauritius are autonomous organizations, regulated by the Co-operatives Act 2005 and the Co-operatives (Amendment) Act 2006. 
·       Any cooperative society may be formed with at least five members and a minimum share capital of Rs5,000.
·        The Cooperative Societies are owned and managed by their members.  The Board of the cooperative is elected by the members at the Annual General Meeting of the society.
The Main Economic Activities Undertaken By Co-operative Societies
·        production and marketing of sugar cane
·        production and marketing of vegetables
·        fishing
·        livestock breeding
·        public transport (bus owners)
·        savings and credit –cooperative credit unions
·        cooperative retail shops
·        handicraft
·        agro-processing and food items
Cooperatives account for:
Ø      65% of onion production
Ø      70% of fresh green vegetables production
Ø      45% of potato production
Ø      10% of national sugar production -40% of sugar-cane planters are grouped in cooperatives
Ø      40% of the national bus transport
Also, the Cooperative Credit Unions sector comprises some 160 societies with a membership of around 75,000 and accounts for a turnover of some Rs2 billion.  
Main Challenges
Ø      Cooperatives to become financially and functionally autonomous.
Ø      Cooperatives to adopt new management and accounting techniques.
Ø     Cooperatives to target business efficiency and effectiveness while adhering to their social objectives.
Ø     Formation of cooperatives in new sectors such as green energy
Ø     Formation of cooperatives by women and youth
Ø     Appropriate Human Resource Development programmes
Ø     More cooperatives to be fairtrade certified

Government and Cooperatives
The Government of Mauritius reckons the importance of the cooperative sector and is therefore encouraging the development of the cooperative movement by providing the appropriate financial, fiscal and policy support.
The Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives (Cooperatives Division) is thus facilitating the promotion and development of the cooperative movement. 
The objectives of the Ministry are to:
·      Enforce the legislation for cooperatives and ensure that cooperatives abide by the provisions of cooperative law.
·     Devise and implement such policies that would ensure the development of a modern and viable cooperative sector.
·     Assist in the capacity building of cooperatives by providing certain incentives, and support services.
Strategies of the Ministry:
A lot of progress has been made by cooperatives. However, the cooperative sector has to put in more effort to keep pace with the overall economic development of the country.
The strategies of the Ministry are geared towards consolidating and developing the cooperative movement, and the empowerment of cooperatives and co-operators. 
The strategies are as follows:
·      Empowerment of cooperatives through capacity building.
·      Human Resource Development Programmes for cooperatives.
·      Guidance to cooperatives for the implementation of their projects.
·     Promotion of the concept of ‘cooperatives’ and the use of cooperative form of business as a viable organizational option.
·     Ensuring a legal framework conducive to the development of the cooperative sector and adherence to the cooperative legislation.
·       Providing cooperators and cooperatives with a wider access to markets.