Cooperatives Around the World

Cooperatives are a major economic force in developed countries and a powerful business model in developing ones, according to the International Co-operative Alliance.

Cooperatives in the Global Economy

According to ICA: 

  • Worldwide more than 1 billion people are members of cooperatives.
  • Cooperatives provide 100 million jobs worldwide, 20% more than multinational enterprises.
  • The economic activity of the largest 300 cooperatives in the world equals the 10th largest national economy.
  • In India and China combined, more than 400 million people are part of cooperatives.
  • In Germany and the United States, one in four people are cooperative members while in Canada that number is four in 10!
  • In Japan, 1 out of every 3 families is a member of a cooperatives.
  • In Indonesia, cooperatives provide jobs to 288,589 individuals. 
  • In Kenya, 250,000 people are employed by cooperatives.
  • Canadian maple sugar cooperatives produce 35% of the world's maple sugar production. 
  • In Colombia, the 8,124 cooperatives were responsible for 4.96% of the GDP in 2009. They employ over 137,888 people - 46% of which are men and 54% women.
  • In Kenya, cooperatives are responsible for 45% of the GDP and 31% of national savings and deposits. They have 70% of the coffee market, 76% dairy, 90% pyrethrum, and 95% of cotton.
  • In Poland, dairy cooperatives are responsible for 75% of dairy production.
  • In the UK, the largest independent travel agency is a cooperative.
  • In Vietnam, cooperatives contribute 8.6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • Costa Rica counts over 10% of its population as members of cooperatives.
  • In Germany, 20 million people are members of cooperatives, 1 out of 4 people.
  • In Singapore, 50% of the population (1.6 million people) are members of a cooperative. 

OCDC: Expertise for Global Cooperative Development

OCDC, the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, is a group of eight cooperative development organizations that apply their expertise and approaches in a wide range of settings and countries to form and nuture cooperatives. OCDC members have multi-year projects in over 70 countries worldwide. OCDC members have been development partners with the U.S. government for more than 40 years and receive funding from other sources.

The involvement of U.S. cooperative organizations in overseas cooperative development stems from the conviction that cooperative enterprises—which have helped millions of Americans—could also work for poor and low-income people in developing countries. Working on behalf of its members, OCDC provides government relations, funding, public relations and information sharing. Read about some of OCDC's success stories.

OCDC members are ACDI/VOCA, CHF International, Communications Cooperative International, Cooperative Resources International, Land O'Lakes International Development, National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), NRECA International and the World Council of Credit Unions.

CLUSA International Program

NCBA's CLUSA Internation Program was formed by the Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA). In the 65 years since the beginning of CLUSA's involvement overseas, NCBA/CLUSA has conducted close to 200 projects in nearly 100 countries worldwide. It's mission is to build and strengthen cooperatives and other forms of private, group-based enterprises by providing technical assistance and training.

CLUSA partners with donor agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Norwegian and Danish Aid Agencies, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

More Information

Learn more about cooperatives in international development by visiting these websites: