Each year cooperatives become more popular throughout the world, and it is not hard to understand why. Many entrepreneurs who seek investment or expansion opportunities with product diversification believe that franchises are their only option. While franchises are a viable choice, cooperatives, or co-ops, come with a number of advantages that franchises don’t offer. For example, cooperatives have no franchising, advertising, or royalty fees. If you are a business owner or are interested in a co-op business opportunity, it is important to understand the International Cooperative Alliance. It is also important to understand the popularity and reach of cooperatives in different areas of the world including Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe and South America.
International Cooperative Alliance
The International Cooperative Alliance or ICA is an independent organization that does not have ties to a specific government. For the past 115 years, the ICA has been representing and serving cooperatives worldwide. The membership base includes national and international cooperative entities for all sectors of the economy including banking, agriculture, health, fisheries, insurance, consumer, workers, and housing. Currently there are nearly one billion members in the ICA, from more than one hundred countries.
Cooperatives in Africa
In Africa, one out of thirteen citizens are members of a co-op. There are six times as many co-op owners as there are shareholders in Africa. In Kenya, 63 percent of the population depends on cooperatives to maintain their livelihoods. Nearly a quarter of a million Kenyans are employed by or garner the majority of their income from cooperatives. In 2002 in the Côte d’Ivoire region, co-ops invested 26 million US Dollars into establishing schools and maternal clinics, and building rural roads.
Cooperatives in Asia
In terms of membership, five of the top ten countries that the ICA represents are in Asia. Two of the three countries with the highest numbers of people in cooperative membership are in Asia. India has 242 million members while China has 160 million members. The United States follows in third place with 120 million members. It is also interesting to note that the country with the widest shareholder ownership is Japan, at 31 percent. From 1992 to 2012, this increase of co-op membership percentage doubled.
Cooperatives in Canada
A large, diverse Canadian population collaborates to build better communities based on cooperative principles. In Canada, four out of every ten Canadians belongs to at least one co-op. There are more than 17 million Canadian co-op members with 100,000 serving as active leaders on committees and boards of directors. In Quebec, around 70 percent of the population maintains cooperative membership. More than 150,000 Canadians have employment with co-ops including agriculture, fisheries, day care, communication, financial products, distribution, housing, healthcare, and more.
Cooperatives in Europe
There are three countries with more than half of the population in co-op membership, all of which are in Europe. Ireland has 70 percent membership, Finland has 60 percent membership, and Austria has 59 percent membership. One positive aspect of co-ops is that they create and maintain employment. In France alone there are 21,000 cooperatives. These cooperatives in France provide over one million jobs, which represents 3.5 percent of the active working population. Cooperatives are also significant economic factors in national economies. For example, in 2007 in Denmark, consumer co-ops held 36.4 percent of the consumer retail market.
Cooperatives in South America
One in five people across the Americas, which includes both North and South America, are members of co-ops. In Paraguay alone, over 780,000 people or 18 percent of the population are members of about 1,500 co-ops. These members have a direct impact on the livelihoods of more than six million people. In Uruguay, cooperatives are responsible for three percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). These cooperatives in Uruguay produce 90 percent of the milk, 34 percent of the honey, and 30 percent of the wheat for the country. Uruguay exports 60 percent of their cooperative production to more than 40 countries.
Co-ops are popular across the world for their many benefits, including in the United States. Get The Scoop on becoming part of the KaleidoScoops cooperative. If you would like more information about KaleidoScoops premium ice cream products, call us today at (877) 426-8488. You can also connect with us via email by clicking on Contact Us.