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Are co-operatives 'a better way?'

"Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility." Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
"[Co-ops are] by far the most durable and most powerful grassroots movement in the world. Co-operatives employ more people in democratically run enterprises than all the world's multinational companies combined." John Restakis, Humanizing the Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital

Each year in Canada, Co-op Week is celebrated in the middle of October. And on the third Thursday of October, International Credit Union Day is marked.

2012 was declared by the UN to be the International Year of the Co-op.

In January 2013 the International Co-operative Alliance -- which represents over one billion co-op members worldwide -- released its Blueprint for a Co-Operative Decade.

Video for 2012 International Year of the Co-op

Dr. David Suzuki: Why he chooses to work with co-operatives.

'' Mac vs PC spoof: "I Love You" Bank vs. Credit Union

The Difference between Banks and Credit Unions: Part 1

Why celebrate co-ops?

Worldwide, co-ops are big employers and create much-needed stability:

  • The United Nations estimated in 1994 that the livelihood of nearly 3 billion people, or half of the world's population, was made secure by co-operative enterprises.
  • In Canada, there are approximately 9,000 co-ops (including credit unions), directly employing over 150,000 people and providing products and services to over 18 million. Canadian co-ops collectively hold more than $370 billion in assets.
  • A 2008 study done in Quebec showed that co-ops have a much higher survival rate than traditional businesses. After five years, it’s 65 per cent vs 35 per cent. After ten years, it’s 44 per cent vs. 20 per cent.
  • In the United States, 30,000 co-operatives provide more than 2 million jobs.
  • In France, 21,000 co-operatives provide over 1 million jobs representing 3.5 per cent of the active working population.
  • In Kenya, 63 per cent of the population derive their livelihoods from co-operatives. Approximately 250,000 Kenyans are employed or gain most of their income from co-operatives.
  • Since the global financial collapse in 2008, not one single credit union has required a government bail-out.
  • At least 7 co-ops are listed in the top 500 companies in Canada, and several financial co-operatives have been rated the best places to work in Canada.

Co-ops -- both non-profit and for-profit -- are controlled by their members:

  • The International Co-operative Alliance estimates that it represents over one billion co-op members worldwide, making it one of the world’s largest NGOs.
  • Whether you’re talking about a credit union, a farmer’s co-op, a housing co-op, marketing co-op, or consumer co-op, the member-driven co-op model fundamentally changes the equation around who benefits from the success of the enterprise.

Want to delve deeper into even more co-op info? Check out the following ‘facts & figures’ pages from which the above info is drawn:

In this Tyee Presents series



Five Things You Didn't Know about Co-ops

Warning: Association with co-ops could prolong life, promote financial security.

By Jesse Donaldson, 14 Oct 2013



Tyee Poll: What percentage of Canadians are members of at least one co-op?

Every year in October, Canadian co-ops from all different sectors celebrate Co-op Week. How much do you know about the sector?

7 Oct 2013