Role of economic development cooperatives in improving the livelihoods of women in Gauteng, South Africa


Tanusha Raniga


University of Johannesburg

A am a passionate social worker, academic and researcher who has an unconditional commitment to serve all of humanity

South African

Key Takeaways

    How To Apply Insights

    • Women should be supported in their psychosocial needs. A lot of them feel very lonely and isolated, and setting up a business forum where they can share their experiences monthly would be useful.
    • The state needs to provide access funding, state loans or microcredit. Access to microcredit is really important, because it allows women to pool together and pay back their loans together and empower them to become economically active. To do so, social workers should get involved in advocating and lobbying.
    • NPO and cooperative projects like this one should be encouraged, since they facilitate economic development, human skills development and social networking.
    • olicymakers need to really support the informal economy.

    Why This Research Matters

    South Africa has an extrememly high unemployment rate. Of the around 58 million population, 18 million people are benefiting from social state grants. My concern in general and this research in particular has been to help women who are completely dependent on the state grants to become more economically productive. The object of this specific paper was to find out what the effect of the NPO (non-profit organization) in Gauteng has had on the lives of eight women who participated in this study.

    Findings & Research Conclusions

    The main finding was that, by partnering with this non-profit organization, women really benefited in many ways. They benefited in terms of the training they received and their own sense of empowerment, but also by increasing the networks amongst themselves, maintaining close contact and a support group every month where they would meet and share experiences and problem solve together. It was really great to know that organizations like this NPO facilitates women and economic empowerment.

    Research's methodology

    This research consisted of interviews with eight women employed by the non-profit organization and monitoring their experiences.

    Several articles published from my social work intervention research in the Bhambayi community in the province of KwaZulu Natal are examples of best practice which supports the relevance of the sustainable livelihoods approach and poverty alleviation amongst poor women. I have had a few master’s students who have been working within their own contexts that show the benefits of the 2005 Cooperatives Development policy. But there is a lack of awareness and support from the private sector and the government itself in respect of providing funding, training and support to enhance sustainability of these projects.


    The sample of this research is quite small, so you cannot really generalize the findings.

    Sustainable livelihoodLooking at sustainable livelihoods translates to looking at human capital development, social capital and the social networks, access to financial capital and physical capital. It is an approach to research and policy-making.

    Reference this research

    Raniga, T. (2021). Role of economic development cooperatives in improving the livelihoods of women in Gauteng, South Africa. Development Southern Africa, 38(4), 591-606.

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