Information on Cooperativism and the Social Economy in Galicia just one click away

A project carried out by the Strategic Group ECOBAS allows access to information by the web about the situation and recent evolution of Cooperativism in Galicia, as well as the economic-financial profile of Galician cooperatives. Under the name of SAVES, Virtual Assistant System for Cooperativism and the Social Economy, this study seeks to have sufficient potential for its future extension to all entities of the Social Economy.

This initiative is part of a research project initiated by researchers María José Cabaleiro Casal and Carlos Iglesias Malvido in 2011. Both are closely linked to the field of cooperativism, participating actively for years in different research and dissemination projects and teaching on the subject.

What motivated its creation is that, at present, the information on the Cooperativism and the Social Economy in Galicia is scattered in various statistical sources. This fact complicates very much its computer processing. “We lack a historical series with comparable data over time so we do not have a set of indicators adapted to the uniqueness of cooperative societies. None of the statistical sources provide easily accessible data on mobile electronic devices. SAVES emerges in the face of this reality”, explains researcher Carlos Iglesias.

A project that hides a great job on cooperation

In addition to the above-mentioned researchers, the management team of ECOBAS and Belén Lemos García, have been involved in the project management. Belén has been specifically contracted for this research and is responsible for data collection, page design and reports. Triwus, Galician Cooperative Society, is responsible for all the computer support on the SAVES website.

SAVES is currently funded by the Eusumo network of the Regional Government of Galicia. However, it should be noted that for this project the means provided by the UVigo, and in recent years by ECOBAS, have been essential. “From ECOBAS we receive material, economic and human support, essential to carry out the project,” says Mª José Cabaleiro.

On the other hand, it is important to note that in order for this tool to be implemented, they had the support and assistance of various entities, highlighting in particular:

  • Sub-Directorate General of Social Economy, under the Department of Employment, Economy and Industry of the Regional Government of Galicia, which made available to it the information of the Register of Cooperatives, as well as the experience of the people working there.
  • The Galician Cooperative Unions ESPAZOCOOP and AGACA, which thanks to their contributions and the experience of their technicians and managers enriched the design, structure and content of SAVES. 
  • The School of Cooperative Studies of the Complutense University of Madrid, which has always supported research on participation companies in general and each of its researchers.
  • The School of Business Studies of Vigo that, maintaining its tradition in the promotion of Cooperativism and the Social Economy, was working from the beginning of this idea, putting at its disposal, its spaces and its disinterested collaboration.

The total costs of the project during this period amount to 47,261 euros. Eusumo Network has contributed 70 percent and University of Vigo the remaining 30 percent. This amount is a small part of the total cost of the project, which is the result of the work carried out by researchers over the last few years.

Main sources of information

SAVES uses the economic-financial information available in the annual reports deposited by the cooperatives in the Galician Cooperative Register, which intersects with other sources of information such as: the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the National Institute of Statistics, the Galician Institute of Statistics, the White Paper on Cooperatives in Galicia (2004), the White Paper on the Social Economy in Galicia (2018), the Galician Economic Synthesis Reports or the Inventory of Cooperatives of Galicia drawn up by Espazocoop, among others, to obtain a more complete picture of the Galician Cooperative Movement.

Project uniqueness and target audience

What makes SAVES different is that in Galicia there is no similar tool, and there is no record of its existence in the rest of Spain. The data so far are collected directly from either the information in the register, or from the other sources identified, as well as from specific surveys. “Projects related to cooperativism and the social economy are not very numerous and common in our community. We believe that this project can help to promote them by providing access to information that was previously very costly to access. At the international level, there is currently no statistical source for comparing the development of cooperatives by country. According to the International Labour Organization, many developed and developing countries produce statistics on cooperatives, but only cover a subset of cooperatives or only certain industries. In 2017, an ILO Working Group on Cooperative Statistics proposed a Conceptual Framework for the Correct Measurement of the Activity of Cooperatives, which would provide an insight into their economic and social contribution and facilitate international comparison. The objective of SAVES fits into this context”, explains economist Carlos Iglesias.

The application shall be available to the general public for basic and unprotected information. The Reports will be at the disposal of the cooperatives; of the Public Administration, especially for the Sub-Directorate General of Social Economy, under the Ministry of Entrepreneurship, Economy and Industry; for the main associations of the sector, AGACA and ESPAZOCOOP; and for the research staff of the three Galician universities.

Situation of Cooperativism in Galicia

What differentiates cooperatives from other types of companies is that their members participate in the economic activity of the entity, either as workers, as customers or as suppliers. This fact conditions the remuneration that the members receive, and also the way in which the economic-financial information is shown in the annual accounts of the cooperatives.

In addition, its operating rules are guided by cooperative principles that incorporate into the company the values of democracy, equality, economic justice or environmental care.

According to the information provided by the Galician Register of Cooperatives, 1,462 cooperatives are registered in Galicia (consultation carried out on 4th December). However, this figure includes some cooperatives that do not have a real activity. The White Paper on the Social Economy of Galicia 2018 estimates the number of active cooperatives at 1,334 as of December 31st, 2018 (Cancelo e Botana, 2019:41).

The main Galician cooperative associations are AGACA (Union of Cooperatives Galician Association of Agricultural Cooperatives) and Espazocoop (Galician Cooperatives Union). AGACA represents Galician agricultural cooperativism and Espazocoop is made up of cooperatives of different classes, although the most representative are worker cooperatives. Both entities are playing a very important role in the development of this type of economy in Galicia.

Main motivations of the project

“We promote this initiative because we believe that it is necessary to show the reality of Cooperativism and the Social Economy of Galicia and we want to contribute to promoting the values of equality and democracy in society and, especially, in the world of business. Cooperativism shows us that another reality is possible. We are pleased that the assistant is starting to work, and we hope that by September we can also be satisfied with achieving the goals we set for ourselves”, the creators say.

SAVES is now available at:, where both the presentation and the first report are available. The remaining three reports will not be available until March, June and September, respectively.