Co-operatives are a global economic force. According to the 2016 World Co-operative Monitor the 300 largest co-operatives in the world have a combined turnover of USD 2.5 trillion, more than the GDP of Brazil, the world’s 7th largest national economy. According to a recent study from CICOPA, 250 million people are employed by or earn their living through a co-operative.
Being focused on human needs, co-operatives have proven to be resilient, and even recorded growth, in times of crisis. As a source of decent employment, they help include marginalised groups, such as youth and indigenous people, in the global workforce.
Co-operatives can combine economic growth with quality employment and are recognised by international organizations like the International Labour Organization (ILO) for their work in this area.
The Alliance in fact has a long-standing relationship with the ILO to promote and develop the role of co-operatives in creating quality and sustainable employment. The Alliance represents co-operative interests at the International Labour Conference every year.
To continue ensuring decent work and inclusive growth, co-operatives need an adequate enabling policy and regulatory environment that recognises and respects their specific identity.
Co-operatives and global supply chains
Co-operatives, as economic operators, have been involved in global supply chains since their origins. The co-operative business model itself was born as a way to shorten supply chains, eliminating intermediaries, either by aggregating producers (e.g. farmer-owned agricultural co-operatives) or consumers (e.g. consumer-owned food retail co-operatives). The major difference between co-operatives and other business models in terms of supply chain intervention is that co-operatives integrate their values and principles into those supply chains, and not just to reap the economic benefits.
Read the Alliance's policy brief on co-operatives and global supply chains, which provides additional context, lists co-operatives' added value in this debate and our policy asks.
November 2015: Co-operatives and the World of Work Research Conference
July 2015: Article on the Alliance’s new Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO
March 2013: ILO report - Resilience in a downturn: The power of financial co-operatives