Compromised success potential of South African co-operatives due to lack of credible data
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Co-operatives in South Africa are meant to address job creation and poverty challenges. However, they do not seem to be successful because of human, systemic and structural factors. The government's efforts to address factors that compromise the success of co-operatives are also compromised due to lack of reliable understanding of this sector. This lack of understanding is an outcome of insufficient data on co-operatives, inappropriate data collection mechanisms, the inability to regularly update the co-operatives' data (registration, state of affairs, etc) and an inability to contact the co-operatives. Consequently, while many co-operatives struggle to access resources, markets, finance, information and support, the government is not clear about the nature and extent of required support, and is also not able to read early warning indicators to assist them before they fail. This paper then points out possible explanations for the general failure of co-operatives and thereby depicts the need for more evidence with additional facts and statistics to establish a solid basis for evidence-based decision making on intervention strategies, investment and support. In a nutshell, this paper argues that the quality of available data is not good enough for planning and decision making purposes, hence it proposes a research agenda for South African co-operatives.