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sosyal kooperatif
In the Cooperatives Law No. 1163; The concept of "cooperative", which is defined as "partnerships with variable partners and variable capital, established by real and legal persons to provide and protect certain economic interests of their partners, especially their professional or livelihood needs, with their labor and monetary contributions, through mutual assistance, solidarity and surety". What does the "social cooperative", which appears with the word "social" added in front of it, want to tell us differently from the term "cooperative"?

So what is this social cooperative?

The cooperative is an enterprise where volunteers come together and work together in line with economic, social, and cultural needs, and there are 7 universal principles of cooperatives.

7 Universal Principles of Cooperative

  • Voluntary and open partnership
  • Democratic control of partners
  • Economic participation of partners
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Education, training, and access to information
  • Cooperation btw. cooperatives
  • Being responsible to society

To summarize how the cooperatives developed in Turkey, we can say that although we cannot characterize it as a modern cooperative, we can say that the first cooperative system was seen in the Ottoman Empire as the "Homeland Fund" founded by Mithat Pasha. This system, which is the foundation of today's Ziraat Bank, is considered as the first steps of forming cooperatives since it was established as a system based on the solidarity and economic cooperation of farmers. In the Republican period, various legal regulations began to emerge about cooperatives, which became more important. Cooperatives made significant progress with the statement "The State shall take measures to ensure the development of cooperatives" in Article 51 of the 1961 Constitution, and the "Cooperatives Law No. 1163" which came into force in 1969. Cooperatives, which first concentrated in agricultural areas in Turkey, expanded their fields of activity due to social and economic reasons and new needs that emerged over time.

As for today, according to the 2021 data of the Ministry of Commerce; in Turkey, there are a total of 84,2321 cooperatives of 26 different types operating under the duty and responsibility of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock, the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and the Ministry of Customs and Trade. "Cooperatives Law" numbered 1163, "Law of Agricultural Credit Cooperatives and Unions" numbered 1581, "Law on Agricultural Sales Cooperatives and Unions" numbered 4572 constitute the basic legislation on the establishment and operation of cooperatives.

What happens when you add “social” to the beginning of cooperatives?

The concept of the social cooperative has emerged as a new type of cooperative to meet the needs such as bringing disadvantaged groups to the business world and meeting social services.

Italy ranks first among the countries that define the definition of the social cooperative as a different concept. Cooperatives, which have been operating under the name of social solidarity since the 80s, gained legal status with the name of "social cooperative" with law no. 381 adopted in 1991. The legal status has enabled social cooperatives to develop rapidly, establish more extensive cooperation, and accelerate the development of the people of the region where they are located. In all these respects, it would not be wrong to say that Italy has a leading role in the field of social cooperatives.

The main point that distinguishes social cooperatives from other types of cooperatives is that they see the “public interest” as their main purpose. The goal of every good and/or service they produce should be the public interest first. At the same time, the expertise of disadvantaged individuals in labor integration makes a difference between them and other types of cooperatives. This difference causes “employees” to be both service providers and beneficiaries, thus causing them to take the role of the main stakeholder. In social cooperatives, different components such as local governments, beneficiaries, employees, local governments act together to realize the purpose of public benefit. In terms of supporting the public interest purpose, it is observed that instead of profit distribution in proportion to the financial contributions of the partners, limited or no profit distribution is made in social cooperatives.

Although there are cooperatives in different fields such as education, health, women's entrepreneurship in Turkey, there is no definition in the meaning of "social cooperative" or legal regulation in this field, except for the general "cooperative" type. The absence of a separate regulation on social cooperatives or the lack of a different process causes various difficulties in the field. Although it is not defined as a separate legal entity, there are many examples in Turkey that comply with the above-mentioned definition of "social cooperative" and carry out its activities in this direction, and define itself as "social cooperative". Different from the current definition of "cooperative" due to the difficulties they experience and the differences they have, these organizations organize advocacy and awareness-raising activities to create regulations in the field of "social cooperative", and they also carry out joint studies with the Ministry of Commerce on this issue.

So what is the “Social Cooperatives Center of Excellence”?

After explaining how adding the word “social” before the concept of “cooperative” has changed, it is time to touch on the Social Cooperatives Center of Excellence Project.

Social Cooperatives Center of Excellence Project is a project that started on April 1, 2021, and will last for 15 months, under the leadership of Needs Map, in partnership with Confcooperative Emilia Romagna in Italy, one of the leading countries in the field, and the Civil Society Development Center. The project aims to ensure the cooperation and communication of social cooperatives in the European Union and Turkey at the local, regional, and national levels.

In this context, it is aimed to carry out the following activities;

  • A digital mechanism will be developed by creating a network of social cooperatives that will enable social cooperatives to establish communication and cooperation among themselves.
  • To determine how the social cooperative field can be developed in Turkey and at what points the studies should be concentrated, a field trip will be held to examine the examples of good practice in Italy and to share experiences on the subject.
  • Roundtable meetings will be held in project implementation provinces to establish communication between social cooperatives and public authorities.
  • Capacity-building training for social cooperatives will be implemented.
  • A 3-day conference on social cooperatives will be held.

To identifying the problems experienced and create solutions, we believe that this step taken is extremely important for developing social cooperatives that face various difficulties because they do not have their legislation in Turkey. 

Do not forget to follow us for developments related to project activities!




 2.Project website: 

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