Promoting Enabling Environments


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is more important today than it has ever been for the cooperative movement in the United States and globally. Although many argue that DEI is inherent in the cooperative principles, cooperatives are working hard just like other businesses to be more inclusive and promote diversity and equity in their policies, practices, and work. And if we take a step back, this intrinsic potential in the cooperative business model begins with creating an enabling environment with favorable legal and regulatory frameworks for cooperative businesses to grow, thrive, and provide economic opportunities for all people. In the United States, cooperative development faces numerous legal and regulatory obstacles, whether it’s personal guarantee requirements hindering cooperative businesses from accessing Small Business Administration loans, other issues with accessing capital and insurance, and even the inability to create certain types of cooperatives. NCBA CLUSA, together with its members and cooperative partners, work hard to advance and protect cooperative enterprise through its advocacy and programs, one example being the Policy Roundtables hosted across the country in 2019. In many countries, local rules and the way they are enforced are some of the biggest barriers for people and communities to implement cooperative solutions. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) also recognizes that cooperatives can’t reach their full potential when they don’t operate on a level playing field with other forms of business and seeks to tackle this challenge abroad through the congressionally earmarked Cooperative Development Program (CDP). This panel of cooperative developers, policy-makers and CDP implementers will discuss some of the common legislative and policy barriers faced by cooperatives in the US and around the world and share strategies, tools and lessons learned for promoting inclusive engagement of all types of cooperative stakeholders in these discussions and ensuring that analyses and recommendations for improvements intentionally address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion as a critical part of the enabling environment.

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