About Us

100th Anniversary

BUILDING A BETTER WORLD

100 Years and Counting

For more than a century, NCBA CLUSA has developed, advanced and protected cooperative enterprise, a trusted and proven way to do business and build communities. In 2016, we celebrated our 100th Anniversary by amplifying the impact of cooperatives across the U.S. and around the world. We profiled our members, published op-eds and partnered with the PBS series Visionaries to produce a documentary, “In the Spirit of Cooperation.”

As we pivot to the next century of supporting businesses that build a better world, NCBA CLUSA is excited to build on this legacy and deepen the footprint of the cooperative movement around the world.

Our History

What do a coffee farmer, funeral director, pickle maker and president of a credit union have in common? They’re all members of the global cooperative movement. Over six months, the PBS series Visionaries interviewed NCBA CLUSA members and clients across three continents to highlight the success, diversity and impact of the cooperative movement. The hour-long special, called “In the Spirit of Cooperation,” features five locations spanning the U.S., Africa and Southeast Asia.

Watch the documentary trailer

Amplifying the Co-op Voice

From a better alternative to crowdfunding a craft brewery startup to why indigenous land matters, our opinion pieces in 2016 highlighted innovative answers to societal and economic challenges. Our work to amplify co-op voices during our 100th Anniversary also includes a podcast series in partnership with Everything Co-op.

Listen to the podcasts    Read the op-eds

A Century of Impact

WORKING TOGETHER

40,000 co-ops

One in three Americans is a member of a cooperative business.

100 years

We’re excited to build on this legacy and deepen the footprint of the cooperative movement around the world.

Over 85 countries

Our approach to sustainable development focuses on local decision-making and empowerment.

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our history

More than a century of building an inclusive economy

1916

The Cooperative League of America is formally organized, the precursor organization to NCBA CLUSA.

1921

The League forms a legal department and successfully lobbies for the passage of a cooperative federation statute in New York, then incorporates as the Cooperative League of the United States of America (CLUSA).

1935

9 out of 10 rural homes are without electric service. President Roosevelt established the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to electrify rural America through the use of rural electric co-ops.

1944

CLUSA joins with other cooperative leaders to launch a public education campaign to defend the tax treatment of cooperatives in Congress. 

The Cooperative Development Foundation is formed, initially as the Freedom Fund of CLUSA, to help provide war relief through the development of cooperatives and other self-help initiatives in Europe. The first grant ($30,000) helps to launch Cooperative of American Remittances to Europe (CARE).

1953

The international arm of CLUSA is launched in response to a request from the Indian Cooperative Union. Through its first overseas office in New Delhi, CLUSA helped develop and strengthen dairy, fertilizer, farm machinery and other co-ops in the country. 

1967

Working in southeastern U.S., CLUSA takes on a pilot project as part of the War on Poverty that leads to the formation of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.

1974

The Cooperative Hall of Fame is established. Inductees receive the cooperative community’s highest honor.

1985

CLUSA changes its name to the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA).

1986

The “CLUSA approach” to sustainable cooperative development is developed in Niger in the mid-1980s. The method is characterized by local decision-making and empowerment, and was developed by NCBA CLUSA veteran innovator Papa Sene.

1994

Cooperativa CafĂ© Timor is established with support from NCBA CLUSA. Today, CCT offers its 22,000 member-owners access to global markets—including Starbucks—better prices and healthcare through its network of health clinics.

2000

NCBA CLUSA proposes and sponsors the .coop Top Level Domain. Many cooperatives and similar trade groups around the world, including the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), backed the proposal. The technical infrastructure for the .coop TLD was developed by the worker cooperative Poptel in the United Kingdom and became operational on January 30, 2002.

2010

NCBA CLUSA’s flagship Feed the Future project Yaajeende is launched in Senegal, based on a comprehensive approach built on the four pillars of food security—availability, access, utilization and governance.

2014

NCBA CLUSA leads fight to successfully restore RCDG funding for co-ops. Credit union membership in the U.S. tops 100 million in June.

2015

NCBA CLUSA formally launches its U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group in March, positioning the organization to better support Cuban economic progress.

NCBA CLUSA receives its first grant from the Starbucks Foundation in April to support the livelihoods of coffee farmers in Indonesia.

The first meeting of the Interagency Working Group on Cooperative Development is held in October, a provision NCBA CLUSA worked hard to ensure the inclusion of in the Farm Bill.

NCBA CLUSA works with legislators to create the long-awaited bipartisan Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus in December, co-chaired by Rep Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI).

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Our History