The first co-operatives were groups of consumers who got together to start their own store, so that they could buy their goods more cheaply – and they used any surplus to improve their communities. The idea soon became applied in other ways, with people running businesses together to provide employment and strengthen the community.
Today, there is a new interest in the role that co-operatives could play in boosting the small enterprise sector.
Government seeks to encourage the start up of co-operatives. Recently, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Elizabeth Thabethe, announced that a new Co-operatives Development Agency as well as a Co-operatives Training Academy would soon be opened by the department. Thabethe said that these institutions, together with a Co-operatives Tribunal, would help develop the sector.