New Generation Cooperatives

*Source: TEKB ©

New Generation Cooperatives[1]


Cooperatives play an important role for country development especially in developed countries. Turkey has also taken considerable steps towards an improvement in this direction with legal reforms aiming at the regulation of the business life that have been made throughout the European Union (EU) membership process. In accordance with the information provided in the ‘Strategic Action Plan for Cooperatives in Turkey’ prepared in 2012 with the aim of developing and spreading Cooperatives, numerous innovations would be brought to agenda and policies and programmes would be developed for the years of 2012-2016. The Türkiye İstatistik Kurumu (Turkish Statistical Institute) (TÜİK) announced on March 6th 2015 that the unemployment rate for the age group of 15-24 in Turkey is 17.9%. Youth’s development of business models with a focus on social enterprise by using Cooperative trading system models and the arrangements based on relevant legislation might be concrete and applicable steps to solve this grand problem before us. By accounting for reports prepared by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), ensuring youth participation and developing policies to support the creation of cooperatives that support youth studies should be added to our agendas as an important necessity.


There have been a number of important changes in the regulation of commercial life in Turkey when the new Turkish Commercial Code came into effect on July 1st 2012. The examination of the report  on: “Kooperatifler Açısından 6102 Sayılı Türk Ticaret Kanunu’nun Getirdiği Yenilikler” (The Changes the Turkish Commercial Code (Law No. 6102) Brought in Terms of the Cooperatives)[2] prepared by the Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade shows that the legislative changes paved the way for the promotion of Cooperatives in all fields and proliferated many different Cooperative types not only in agricultural and housing construction processes but also in renewable energy, education, business initiatives.[3] These changes made to the articles of the “Strategic Action Plan for Cooperatives” has been prepared as a part of the International Year of Cooperatives, which was declared by the United Nations in 2012.[4]

The action plan, prepared on a participatory basis with the contributions of the Turkish National Cooperatives Association, has the characteristic of a guide for the development of cooperatives in Turkey in-line with the basic principles and actions set for the years 2012-2016. The seven strategic objectives that have been set in the Action Plan are:

  1. The public organisation and the way to provide services to the cooperatives will be restructured.
  2. Activities of training, consulting, information and research will be developed.
  3. The organisation capacity and the cooperation between cooperatives will be increased.
  4. Capital structure and access to loans and financing will be strengthened.
  5. Internal and external audit systems will be entirely revised.
  6. Institutional and professional management capacity will be increased.
  7. The basis of legislation will be improved according to international principles and requirements.[5]

For the improvement of cooperatives and the cooperative system and for the realisation of these goals in Turkey, cooperative initiatives must be spread especially among youth. At the same time, because the rate of youth unemployment is above the rate of overall unemployment, the cooperative system might be considered as an employment model for young people.

Strategies for Creating Employment Opportunities for Youth

The Turkish Statistical Institute announced the overall unemployment rate in Turkey as 9.9% in a bulletin it published on March 6th 2015.[6] In addition to the overall unemployment level recorded to be below 10%, it has also been stated, in the same bulletin, that the unemployment rate concerning the age group 15-24 was 17.9%. Since youth unemployment is above the general unemployment rate, it is especially necessary to solve the youth unemployment problem, to develop employment opportunities oriented towards young people.

The most widespread programs consist of the creation of new employment opportunities aimed at youth, and the development of new fields of occupation or promoting special training and certificate programs in different fields of occupation. In the recent years, when recent studies conducted on this topic are investigated, local governments, universities and various grant institutions have started different practices concerning vocational training, entrepreneurship and trainings of intermediate staff. Prepared by the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality with the support of Izmir Development Agency, “Kent Koleji Projesi,” (City College Project) with its programmes and practices, aims to create employment opportunities for young people.[7] The support towards vocational training and enabling of opportunities for personal development with the vocational courses, which were initiated with the support of Ege University Continuing Education Centre, are considered important steps of the City College. In addition to the development of opportunities where youth can personally participate and where they can develop themselves, the development of models enabling collective participation of the youth to processes of production and service providing is another important requirement.

Social Entrepreneurship and Youth Cooperatives

While designing entrepreneurship models intended for young people, taking ‘social entrepreneurship’ into account, supporting voluntary participation and acting with a feeling of responsibility developed upon certain values enables the enhancement of the gains. Spreading cooperatives among youth is also a ‘social enterprise.’ The new cooperatives that will be formed by young people, using the widespread cooperative business model, this can then turn into social enterprises that produce services in different platforms. In the book entitled “Kooperatifçilik Bilgisi” (Knowledge on Cooperatives) prepared by Zübeyir Tokgöz with the support of the Ministry of Customs and Trade, it describes the values of cooperatives are set as: “self-aid, responsibility, democracy, equality, honesty, solidarity, mutual trust.” [8] We see that all these values are also covered in youth studies, based on the policy documents published by organisations such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

Cooperative ventures are also remembered by their endurance during the recent economic crises. The cooperatives in Europe were effect by the 2008 economic crisis, and were also able to reach an advantageous position. The report published by the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) shows as an example that in situations of crisis, cooperatives are more preferred, and that the number of cooperative partners increases and that the turnover of consumption cooperatives upsurges.[9] The report also mentions that a government’s unconditional inclusion of courses that cover the formation of cooperative ventures in the curriculum of schools (so that youth can learn about cooperatives) should be considered as a primary duty. A complete examination of the report also indicates that cooperatives are accepted as a sustainable business model.[10]

Among the cooperatives that operate in coordination with three ministries in Turkey, all the Cooperative types (28 types), except the agricultural and housing cooperatives, continue their operations with the support of the Ministry of Customs and Trade. The report published in December 2014 by the General Directorate of Cooperatives, which supports the activities of cooperatives except the housing and agricultural cooperatives, indicates that there are 12,915 cooperatives in the country and that 8,575 of them are active.[11] Among the cooperative types, credit guarantee, transportation and consumption cooperatives constitute 79% of the whole. Among those that establish the remaining 21% there are cooperatives on tourism development, production, education, supply distribution, agricultural sales, management, women labour and others.[12] In an attempt for the formation of youth cooperatives in Turkey and enabling the get-together of youth with the cooperative social entrepreneurship model, there needs to be an evaluation on ‘cooperative types.’


It comes out as a conclusion that there are different expectations considering the youth’s needs: the jobs they can perform and their future expectations. When considering jobs, young people have already been performing, together with the creation of models oriented to those at their pupillage and to those who do not go on to higher education and also in addition to career development oriented trainings executed by local governments, the cooperative trading system, as a ‘business model’ that comes right after the certification phase, could also start taking place at the top of the agenda. For this formulating a Cooperative type that has been eased up for young people with a wide perspective and a focus on youth studies and preparing a Principle Agreement that would cover the shaping of this model should be taken into consideration. The seventh article of the Strategic Action Plan for Cooperatives published in 2012 indicated this very point.

The steps towards ensuring legislative changes to be taken based on certain situations and necessities will facilitate the spreading of youth cooperatives in Turkey. As a result of the proliferation of youth Cooperatives, young people’s collective production or their process of sustaining the needs may be actualised, and in this way, new employment opportunities on a social entrepreneurship basis, with the intention of averting youth employment, would be formed.

Mehmet Kuzu. Board Member of Genç İşi Kooperatif

Please cite this publication as follows:

Kuzu, M. (December, 2015), “New Generation Cooperatives” Vol. IV, Issue 12, pp.25-30, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey), London, Research Turkey (


[1] This is a research study prepared in tandem with the evolution of cooperatives and the legislative changes that have been taking place in the last years.

[2] Official Gazette, Number: 28339, Year: 26 June 2012.

[3] The report that was published in May 2014 can be accessed through this web address. [Accessed on 25 October 2015], Available at:

[4] International Year of Cooperatives. [Accessed on  25 October 2015], Available at:

[5] Eylem Planı (Action Plan) 2012-2016. [Accessed on 25 October 2015], Available at:ürkiye kooperatifçilik stratejisi ve eylem planı (2012-2016).pdf

[6] Turkish Statistical Institute, News Bulletin, No: 18645, 6 March 2015.


[8] Tokgöz, Z., ‘Kooperatifçilik Bilgisi.’ Ankara 2014.

[9] Brichall, J. and Ketilson, L. H., ‘Resilience of the Cooperative Business Model in Times of Crisis,’ ILO Publishing, Italy 2009.

[10] Brichall, J. and Ketilson, L. H., ‘Resilience of the Cooperative Business Model in Times of Crisis,’ ILO Publishing, Italy 2009.

[11] Kooperatif istatistikleri bülteni (Bulletin for statistics on Cooperatives). [Accessed on 25 October 2015], Available at:İstatistik   aralık.pdf

[12] Kooperatif istatistikleri bülteni (Bulletin for statistics on Cooperatives). [Accessed on 25 October 2015], Available at:İstatistik   aralık.pdf



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