World Cooperative Monitor celebrates decade of exploring the co-op economy with 10th anniversary edition


The annual global research report on cooperatives produced by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) with the scientific support of the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse) is now available.

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The 2021 World Cooperative Monitor marks the 10th anniversary edition of the annual research report and continues its analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on cooperatives as well as how they are approaching recovery and working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The research and collaborations carried out over the last 10 years have provided the cooperative movement with a significant tool to evaluate its own positioning and have highlighted the importance of cooperation before the public and policymakers. As a recent example, the UN Secretary General Report on “Cooperatives in Social Development” used the World Cooperative Monitor (WCM) to highlight the size of the global cooperative sector. The World Cooperative Monitor team works closely with the International Cooperative Entrepreneurship Think Thank (ICETT), a recently formed group of large cooperatives and cooperative groups engaged with ICA in the study and deepening of various issues related to the cooperative world.

Besides the economic and employment data of the Top 300 cooperatives and mutuals at the global level, the 2021 World Cooperative Monitor gives special attention to two key global issues: first the impact of COVID-19 on large cooperatives, focusing on their reactions to the emergency as well as the actions they plan to implement during the recovery phase; and second, a continuation of the analysis on how large cooperatives are working toward achieving the SDGs.

As for the impacts of COVID-19, a series of 29 interviews conducted with large cooperatives around the world showed that participation and attention to members and community focus are key points that have guided cooperatives’ actions in recent months and that could be the pillars for disseminating a business model that embraces the goals promoted by the 2030 Agenda in terms of human rights, fair labor, environmental sustainability and sustainable growth. These issues, as analyzed in the section on SDGs, are already at the center of many cooperatives’ agendas.

The Top 300 cooperatives and mutuals report a total turnover of close to USD $2.2 billion based on 2019 financial data. These organizations operate in various economic sectors, with insurance (102 enterprises) and agriculture (98 enterprises) leading the list. Wholesale and retail trade represents the third biggest economic sector (55 enterprises) in the ranking.

This year’s results show that, at the global level, the large cooperative groups are holding their own and turnover is growing slightly. In the Top 300 ranking based on turnover the largest cooperatives are performing well, with only slight variations in the top positions across the sectors. On the podium are the two French financial institutions Groupe CrĂ©dit Agricole(with 142,675 employees in 2019) and Groupe BPCE (105,019 employees in 2019) and the German REWE Group(241,691 employees in 2019). Most of the Top 300 enterprises are from the most industrialized countries such as the U.S. (75 enterprises), France (35 enterprises), Germany (31 enterprises) and Japan (26 enterprises).

In the Top 300 ranking based on the ratio of turnover over gross domestic product (GDP) per capita—which relates the turnover of the enterprise to the wealth of the country—two Indian producer cooperatives reach the first and third positions: IFFCO and Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited. Between them, and in second place is the French Groupe CrĂ©dit Agricole.

“The World Cooperative Monitor remains a significant tool for the global cooperative movement, helping it not only evaluate its own positioning but also highlight the importance of cooperatives to the general public and policymakers,” said Bruno Roelants, Director-General of the ICA. “Over the last ten years, the monitor has helped to deepen our understanding of the cooperative sectors and areas of impact.”

In addition to the Top 300 rankings, this year’s edition includes two chapters exploring how cooperatives can build back better from the pandemic and contribute to achieving the SDGs. The findings were presented on November 30 at the World Cooperative Congress in Seoul and online, where delegates from all over the world joined in the conversation on how to deepen our cooperative identity.”

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