From India, and Italy, to the U.S. Senate: What Policy Can Do to Unleash the Power of Digital Cooperatives

  • Nov 5, 2022 4:45–5:45PM

  • Observatory

Guided by Eneida Santos


What began as a niche created by a few tech-savvy individuals has grown into a global movement with supporters in nearly every country. With a number of initiatives underway, it appears that the Indian state of Kerala is now leading the way in digital cooperative development. For decades, Italy’s cooperatives have assisted people in breaking the cycle of poverty. Cooperatives are supported and promoted by senators from both parties in the United States. This forum will provide global perspectives on policy initiatives in this sector.

Indian State Leads the Way
Mohit Dave has focused on the growth of platform cooperatives in South India, particularly looking at Kerala through organizations like the Kerala Development and Innovation Strategy Council, a strategic think-tank and advisory body established by the Government of Kerala. As a researcher for the International Cooperative Alliance, he studies the landscape of (platform) cooperatives in the Asia-Pacific region. Mohit has also conducted research on the impact of cooperatives on SDGs, their resilience in the COVID-19 pandemic and their relevance in the Social and Solidarity Economy. He is involved in several initiatives to build a network of influencers and institutions invested in platform cooperatives to engage them meaningfully.


It’s Time to Convince the U.S. Senate
Sadev Parikh, a current ICDE fellow, is on a mission to make platform co-ops more palatable to Senators in the United States. In a recent article, he outlines four levers that could be used to incentivize the growth of these businesses: anti-trust legislation, interoperability, privacy legislation, and support from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA is a federal government agency that provides loans and other assistance to small businesses. Getting state and local governments to implement policies that encourage employee ownership could be one way to ensure that the SBA is supporting co-ops. For example, the City of Pittsburgh has created a task force on employee ownership that is working to promote this model of business. Senators who are supportive of small businesses and promoting competition may be particularly receptive to these ideas. By using these levers, we can create an environment that is more conducive to the growth of platform co-ops.


A Report From Bologna, Milano, and Biella

Pietro Ghirlanda is an Italian academic who focuses on the role of platform cooperatives in the Italian context. He has conducted case studies in three Italian cities: Bologna, Milano, and Biella. In each of these three cities, he has studied how municipalities support platform cooperatives and social and solidarity platforms by assessing history, value proposition, organizational form, competitive advantages, paradigmatic elements and interviewing the most important stakeholders involved in three emblematic examples: Vicoo Platform, So.De and Welfare X. Ghirlanda adopts an ecosystem-oriented and institutionalist perspective, referencing also to the commons literature.


File Swap
Would you like to dig deeper, learn more about the discussed topics, or have documents to share? Download PDFs of the presentations, background readings, and/or upload your own materials to this folder


  • Mohit Dave International Cooperative Alliance Asia and Pacific

  • Eneida Santos Researcher, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)

  • Sadev Parikh J.D./M.P.A. Candidate, Georgetown University Law Center / Harvard Kennedy School

  • Pietro Ghirlanda Ph.D. student, University of Milan

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