Italian Center for Documentation on Cooperation and Social Economy | Virtual museum - Egypt

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of cooperatives


The prospects for cooperative organizations in the fields of agriculture and among consumers were promoted at an early period (1908) in Egypt by Omar Lutfi, considered a leading pioneer in the Egyptian Co operative movement. The initial response to his efforts was limited, but there was a gradual build up of societies in the ensuing years, enough to warrant passage of the first cooperative law in 1923. A surge of new activity followed the end of World War II, and a National Cooperative Union (now defunct) was established in 1947. Following the revolution of 1952, serious cooperative development efforts, with strong governmental involvement and assistance, were begun in connection with agrarian reform measures. New activity was stimulated as well in consumer, housing and worker productive cooperatives. By the early 1960s national federations existed in each of these three sectors, and in the agricultural sector specialized federations for particular crops had begun to emerge (by 1978 there were 1l). In the government, some confusion about responsibility for cooperatives has arisen due to the lack of a single cooperative department; different ministries have set up cooperative support and supervision units for their own sectors. A Higher Institute of Cooperative and Management Studies was established at Ain Shams University in Cairo. Growth in the cooperative movement has been steady since the 1950s, generally unimpeded by political events. In 1994 the General Cooperative Union of Egypt reported that there were 18,165 cooperatives with 11,466,200 members (20.3% of the national population). By sector they divided as follows: agriculture—6,360 cooperatives/with 4,2OO,000 members; consumer—9,762/5,450,000; fisheries—91/86,200; housing—1,459/1,500,000; and worker productive—493/230,000.
Jack Shaffer, Historical Dictionary of the Cooperative Movement, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Lanham, Md., & London 1999

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