Roles of Cooperatives in Economic and Rural Empowerment in Imo State, Nigeria
The paper examines the role cooperatives play in economic and rural empowerment. The purpose is to investigate ways in which cooperatives act as tools towards sustainable rural and economic empowerment in Imo state, Nigeria. The research method adopted is exploratory and reveals that cooperatives have alternative business models for local businesses that are both responsive to rural needs which can stimulate economic development by giving people control over their livelihoods create job opportunities and provide a channel for the overall growth of the Nigerian economy. The results show that cooperatives contribute to economic and rural empowerment through the procurement of farm inputs for members, giving vocational skills and fighting social exclusion in the rural areas. The results also reveal that the gains of cooperation have not been fully realised in the study area especially in job creation. It was concluded therefore that employment planners, cooperative promotion agencies, social partners, donor organisations and agencies should take advantage of the investment opportunities that lie fallow in the study area so that the rural dwellers can feel a change in their quality of life through the provision of amenities such as electricity, water, markets, education, roads and provision of adequate infrastructure, income, food production and employment thus eliminating the rural- urban divide.
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