Cooperative Development Program (CDP)

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Quick Facts

Managed by

USAID Office of Local Sustainability (E3/LS)

Launched in


U.S. Partners

Program Outcomes

The CDP has strengthened more than 10,000 cooperatives and credit unions in more than 35  countries across Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia - representing more than 1 million households.

The program has leveraged over $150 million from U.S. and local private sector partners and proposed 42 new cooperative laws and regulations since 2001.


In Peru, the Cooperative Development Program (CDP) is supporting sustainable livelihoods. This video showcases the partnership between Equal Exchange, a U.S.-based worker cooperative, and ACOPAGRO, a Peruvian cacao cooperative.

Investing in cooperatives and credit unions around the world to build social cohesion, stabilize economies, and empower local actors. USAID’s Office of Local Sustainability manages the Cooperative Development Program (CDP), a global initiative that is strengthening the capacity of cooperative businesses, credit unions  and cooperative ecosystems.
A cooperative is an association of people united voluntarily to meet their shared economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. Globally, there are more than 3 million cooperatives and credit unions, representing over 1 billion members.  What sets cooperatives apart from other businesses? Cooperatives and credit unions across the globe operate according to the same  seven core cooperative principles:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
  2. Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions.
  3. Member Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.
  4. Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
  5. Education, Training and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
  7. Concern for Community: Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

Program Details

The CDP aims to be a demand-driven and iterative initiative supporting cooperatives in the sectors of agriculture, finance, health, energy, and information technology. CDP partners are strengthening cooperative  businesses and credit unions abroad in several ways, including:

  • Governance
  • Member equity and capitalization
  • Financial management
  • Market performance
  • Legal and regulatory reform
  • Gender inclusion
  • Youth engagement

Additionally, the CDP fosters collaboration among partners through technical working groups, joint cooperative research, co-designed learning agendas, and dissemination of cooperative development resources through global networks.

Eligibility and Requirements

For USAID Missions and Operating Units: USAID Missions and Operating Units (OUs) interested in strengthening cooperatives or improving cooperative enabling environments can access E3/LS's CDP Annual Program Statement (APS) mechanism here. OUs seeking to use the APS should contact

The CDP APS has restricted eligibility for:

  1. A U.S. cooperative or an organization with substantial membership and/or financial links to recognized U.S. cooperatives and/or their associations; and
  2. A demonstrated track record of not less than five years in the planning, management, monitoring, and evaluation of overseas cooperative development programs.

Program Examples

Afghanistan: Stabilizing the Economy through Credit Unions

In Afghanistan, thousands of rural families living in conflict-affected environments were facing economic hardship. The scarcity of opportunities in these rural areas was in part because the financial sector lacked a skilled workforce to manage the demand for savings or loans portfolios. Additionally, local credit unions were ill-equipped to support growth opportunities in the agricultural sector - essential to supporting these rural communities.

Through USAID’s CDP, WOCCU supported the delivery of financial services to the agriculture sector by working alongside local credit unions to mobilize savings, disburse loans, and launch income-generating activities which helped spur stable economic development.  These efforts led to an increased use of financial services by 110%, serving over 119,405 credit union members across Afghanistan.

Peru: Supporting Lives and Livelihoods in Agricultural Cooperatives

In Peru, international buyers reduced cacao purchases  from cooperatives because  they struggled to achieve the quality and volume standards required for export.  Faced with a decrease in overseas sales, cacao cooperatives were tempted to diversify into illicit crops.

Through USAID’s CDP, Equal Exchange partnered with three Peruvian cooperatives to improve their capitalization and overall productivity, as well as the quality of their harvests so that they could continue producing cacao.  Across all three cooperatives, productivity increased by over 100% - and members earned over $5 million in quality premiums as a result of the program.  Today, the cooperatives are more sustainable, with additional capital from enhanced member equity

Philippines: Powering the Country through Rural Electric Cooperatives

Electricity is essential to development, but reaching rural areas is often a challenge. In the Philippines, millions of  people needed a reliable energy source for their livelihoods.

Through USAID’s CDP, NRECA International provided technical assistance to a network of 119 electric cooperatives by deploying U.S. electric cooperative volunteers. The volunteers delivered power generation and distribution technology, as well as training in utility management, to the local electric cooperatives’ technicians. The training and technology provided through NRECA International’s program brought electricity to over 56 million people in 36,000 rural villages and towns.

South Africa: Leveraging Investments in the Agricultural Sector

Challenged by market risk and volatile returns, South Africa struggled to increase investment in the agricultural sector, where over 2 million smallholder farmers needed adequate financial resources to sustain their livelihoods.

Through USAID’s CDP, Genex leveraged over $95 million from public and private sector partners to invest in South African cattle cooperatives.  These investments empowered the cooperatives to increase their members’ dairy and beef production, while improving the quality of their products through genetics and herd management skills. Incomes grew exponentially as a result, directly benefiting  thousands of cooperative members and their families.

Uganda: Reaching Remote Communities through Health Cooperatives

In Uganda, rural community members would often go into debt for obtaining routine healthcare.  Not only were these medical services extremely expensive, they were often of poor quality.

Through USAID’s CDP, HealthPartners expanded access to quality  healthcare services to underserved regions in Uganda.  By establishing health cooperatives, HealthPartners reached over 50,000 households - providing reliable healthcare where previously there had been none. In addition to increasing the availability of healthcare in rural areas, HealthPartners equipped local communities with bed nets to combat mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria and Zika.  Today, these communities are thriving - receiving regular, preventive and affordable healthcare services.

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For more information about the CDP, please contact

To learn more about other E3/LS programs, visit the Office of Local Sustainability's webpage.