ILO's participation in the 2nd Turkey Cooperative Fair

News | 08 January 2018
From 7-10 December 2017, Turkey’s General Directorate of Cooperatives of Ministry of Customs and Trade organized a second edition of a nation-wide cooperatives fair (Türkiye Kooperatifler Fuarı) at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Ankara.

With the aim of providing a forum to share the knowledge and experiences among cooperatives, the event brought together more than 100 cooperatives and apex organizations operating in a range of sectors such as agriculture, artisanal production, food, logistics, insurance and finance. At the opening speech, Minister of Customs and Trade Bakan Tüfenkçi emphasized that cooperatives can be key to local development through creating and spreading capital base (Details of the opening speech are available here in Turkish).

The following six panels were organized to discuss each specific topic in depth:
  1. Cooperatives’ access to finance
  2. Role of women’s cooperatives in creating equal opportunity and increasing women participation in labour
  3. Development and dissemination of renewable energy production cooperatives
  4. Social cooperatives in Turkey and in the world
  5. Issues regarding cooperative legislation and suggestions for solutions
  6. Basic strategies and world examples in the marketing of cooperative products and the development of cooperatives trade

Özge Berber presenting at the panel
A representative of ILO Office for Turkey, Özge Berber-Agtaş, participated in the panel on social cooperatives on 9 December, along with other panellists including Director-General Arif Seymenoğlu from General Directorate of Cooperatives, representatives of CECOP and Legacoop Sociali and representatives from Turkey’s leading social cooperatives: Youth Deal Cooperative (Genç İşi Kooperatifi), Another School is Possible Association (Başka Bir Okul Mümkün Derneği), and Map of Needs Cooperative (İhtiyaç Haritası). Prof Aysegul Yıldırım-Kaptanoğlu, founding member of Sanitas Magisterium, a scholar-led cooperative working on public health, moderated the panel.

CECOP President Guiseppe Guerini presenting at the panel
The ILO’s presentation shed light upon the global good practices of cooperatives providing social care services to disadvantaged communities including informal workers, domestic workers and waste pickers. Guiseppe Guerini, President of CECOP presented a broad overview of legal and institutional aspects of social cooperatives in Europe and Italy and the Legacoop representative Carlo Francesco Salmaso provided a practical insight into the Italian experience focusing on a specific case of the provision of the shelter for homeless people.

Mehmet Kuzu from Youth Deal Cooperative elaborated on the role of youth-led cooperatives in improving youth’s access to decent work and preventing labour emigration. Levent Kahraman from Another School is Possible Association, coordinating body of nine education cooperatives across the country, explained key strengths of their cooperative alternative in Turkey’s education sector which is currently dominated by public and for-profit private actors. Gujan Şen, founding member of Map of Needs Cooperative, presented their globally unique cooperative experience featuring a nation-wide online sharing platform.

This first formal gathering on social cooperatives coincided with the country’s efforts for consultation, legislation and promotion of social cooperatives, which remains a strategic priority as emphasized by the Director-General of Cooperatives.