Throughout the month of October, festivals and educational events across America will celebrate the cooperative business model and its strong emphasis on ethics, member cooperation, and making a difference in the world.
According to the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), there are over 29,000 cooperative businesses in the United States, owned by more than 130 million people. Co-ops generate approximately two million jobs each year.
Because co-ops place a high priority on building sustainable development in their communities, on members working together, and on education and training, they are drawing much national and international attention.
Last May, the White House convened 150 cooperative leaders to discuss how the cooperatives’ worker-supporting practices could be applied on a greater scale. Indeed, experts acknowledge that cooperatives play a vital role in the economy, especially in times of slow job growth, high unemployment, and stagnant median incomes.
“Cooperatives are a way to help grow the middle class,” says Liz Bailey, NCBA’s interim president and CEO. “It really provides individuals with access to affordable housing, fair lending practices, livable wage jobs and all of those kinds of things that allow people to really survive and grow within the middle class.”
On the international level, cooperatives employ 100 million people around the world, with 800 million people acting as members. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2012 the “International Year of Cooperatives” in order to highlight the important contribution of cooperatives to global socio-economic development.
In a resolution, the UN recognized that cooperatives “promote the fullest participation in the economic and social development of all people, including women, youth, older persons, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples, are becoming a major factor of economic and social development and contribute to the eradication of poverty.”
Cooperative Month was first celebrated in the 1930s.
“Cooperatives in social development” Resolution adopted by the General Assembly. February 11, 2010.
Co-op Month. Copper Valley Electric Association.
Co-op Principles. National Cooperative Business Association.
Kandasamy, Ambika. “Cooperative Leaders Meet with White House” May 15, 2012.
“What is a cooperative?” Brochure. SECO Energy.