Cooperative Movement Launches New US$50m International Investment Scheme to Support Cooperatives in Developing Countries

MANCHESTER, England, Nov. 1, 2011 /CNW/ - To mark the United Nations' (UN) International Year of Cooperatives 2012, the worldwide cooperative movement today (1 November) launched a new initiative designed to provide much needed finance to cooperatives in developing countries.

The Global Development Cooperative (GDC) aims to support cooperative businesses in developing countries by raising $50m to provide access to low cost loans for capital and infrastructure projects.  It will target investors with an interest in international development and extending the reach and benefits of the cooperative model.

The GDC was unveiled at a special ceremony in New York last night for leaders from many of the largest 300 cooperatives in the world organised by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) which represents the global movement.  It is the first time these individuals have been brought together and marked the launch of the International Year by the UN.

The Year recognises the role the cooperative business model has played in improving social and economic development in communities across the world by creating and sustaining jobs and reducing poverty.

However, funding for such businesses is often scarce because traditional lenders are either not active in this market, do not sufficiently understand the cooperative business model, or because businesses have limited collateral to put forward.

The new investment concept has been developed by the UK's The Co-operative Bank - part of the world's largest consumer cooperative - and the ICA.

Amongst those who have pledged support to the initiative are the All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Cooperatives, Credit Cooperatif of France and IFFCO of India.  Mid-Counties Co-operative as well as The Co-operative Bank from the UK have also committed support.

Paul Flowers, Chairman of the Global Development Cooperative*, said: "Against a backdrop of a financial crisis exacerbated by corporate greed and speculation, the cooperative model has proved to be one of the most enduring and successful ways of running a business for the last 150 years.

"Despite the tough economic times, cooperative members across the world want the movement to maintain support for international development. It's important we use our influence to support communities across the developing world."

Dame Pauline Green, President of the ICA, said: "This initiative is a clear illustration of one of the founding principles of the movement - self help among cooperatives.

"It will ensure that a positive and long-lasting legacy will remain from the International Year, helping thousands of co-operators in the developing world.  It will also continue our work to develop sustainable member-owned enterprises, and embed civil society across the globe.

"We urge those with an interest in furthering social and economic development in developing countries to support the GDC."

The International Year of Cooperatives aims to raise awareness of cooperatives and seek ways to leverage their contribution to socio-economic development and foster more supportive regulatory frameworks. 

The sector is estimated to have around 800 million members in over 100 countries and account for more than 100 million jobs around the world.

Anyone interested in finding out more about GDC should contact stuart.coe@cfs.coop

Notes to editors

  • *Paul Flowers is also chairman of The Co-operative Bank
  • A cooperative is defined as an autonomous voluntary association of people who unite to meet common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations, through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. The top 300 global cooperatives have a combined turnover of $1.6 trillion.

About the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA)

The ICA is the global voice for the values-based business model of the cooperative, uniting cooperatives worldwide and providing a forum for knowledge and concerted action.

Further information is available at http://www.ica.coop and http://www.2012.coop

About The Co-operative Group

The Cooperative Group is the UK's largest mutual business, owned by almost six million consumers. It has business interests in food retailing financial services funerals and farming. It has over 5,000 trading outlets, employs 110,000 people and an annual turnover of £13.7bn.

Further information is available at http://www.co-operative.coop

SOURCE Co-operative Bank

For further information:

Kirsten Plonner, Weber Shandwick, Telephone: +1-212-445-8381, Email: kplonner@webershandwick.com; Andy Hammerton, Andy.Hammerton@cfs.coop; +44(0)161-903-3835

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