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CECOSESOLA is a hierarchy-free, solidary association of cooperatives in the Lara district in Venezuela, with the emphasis on cultivation and distribution of food and health care. CECOSESOLA was founded in 1967. The first project of CECOSESOLA was a funeral home.


CECOSESOLA now has over 300 associated workers, nearly 20,000 associates, and is composed of over 80 cooperatives, civil associations and organizations. The workers receive about twice the government-set minimum wage. The wages are based on people's requirements, thus are not the same for everyone. Those with children, for example, get more. In 2010, the turnover of the company amounted to 430 million Bolivares - around 100 million U.S. dollars.


Lara is a district situated in the west of Venezuela, and its capital is Barquisimeto, with one million inhabitants. Here CECOSESOLA operates three weekly markets, where every week 55,000 families - about a quarter of the urban population - buy fruits, vegetables and foods. 450 tonnes of fruit and vegetables are sold every week. The prices are on average 30 percent lower than those of privately operated markets. In addition, there is a shop for home appliances and furniture, where members can buy the products with instalment payments without the usual high interest rates.


CECOSESOLA also has six communal health organizations that were established to respond to the deeply felt needs of the community. The health organization performs over 190,000 health care treatments per year. In 2009, the cooperative built a new health centre where alternative treatments such as acupuncture and massages are offered, but also surgical procedures and laboratory and X-ray examinations. The prices are 60 percent below those of private hospitals. For members of the cooperatives certain treatments are for free.


The cooperative also includes farms. Twelve organizations in the states of Lara and Trujillo manage over 200 small farms (2-3 hectares) to supply the markets. In some, companies try to replace agrochemicals with biological crop protection. Small production cooperatives produce foods that are sold in the markets such as bread, whole grain pasta, cereals, tomato sauce, herbs, spices, honey, fruit pulp etc. The cooperative also runs a credit union and a Solidarity Fund.


The most striking feature of the cooperative is the absence of hierarchical positions. All members can always get involved at all levels with the same rights. Decisions are made in consensus and met again for discussion, if someone declares his non-acceptance. There is no governing body, no managing director and no supervision.


The success of the cooperative is based on making information accessible to all, building trust relationships and establishing the collective power of solidarity. According to CECOSESOLA there is no blueprint for success.  “Success is based on a desire and in the case of CECOSESOLA this is the desire to live together respecting each other, in solidarity”.


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Type of initiative Company, Other (specify): Cooperative
Field of work Agriculture, Manufacturing, Trade, Financial services, Healthcare
Date of commencement 1967
Founder(s) Community
Legal form Cooperative
Continent South America
Country Venezuela
City Barquisimeto
One or several keywords that describe your initiative Association, Cooperative
Publications Videos, magazines, books
More information

Contact person(s)


Contact information

Address Escuela Coopertiva Carrera 4 entres calles 8 y 10 zona industria
Zip/postal code
Place Barquisimeto
State/province Estado Lara
Country Venezuela
Phone +58 251 2372909



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