Co-operative Enterprise in a Global Context

At the global level CMEs rank among the largest business organisations. The 300 largest CMEs have a combined annual turnover of US$ 963 billion and are to be found in such industries as banking and finance, agriculture, and retailing and wholesaling. They are also to be found in all parts of the world, with the Top-10 largest CMEs coming from Japan, Korea, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. These businesses included:

  • Zen-Noh, Japan
  • Zenkyoren, Japan
  • Credit Agricole Group, France
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance, USA
  • National Agricultural Co-operative Federation, South Korea
  • Groupma, France
  • Migros, Switzerland
  • The Co-operative Group, UK
  • Edeka Zentrale AG, Germany
  • Mondragon Corporation, Spain

Globally co-operative enterprise is represented by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), which is the peak body of the world co-operative movement founded in 1895. In 2012 the ICA has over 250 member organisations in over 100 countries that employ around 100 million people and represent the interests of some 1 billion people.

United Nations International Year of the Co-operative

In 2012 the United Nations celebrated the International Year of the Co-operative this was a significant event and one that was actively celebrated in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) produced a special report on the co-operative and mutual enterprise sector in Australia. This provides a defnition of these enterprises and also a history of the movement in Australia. The UWA team of Professor Tim Mazzarol and Dr Elena Mamouni Limnios provided a chapter in this report focusing on "The Sustainable Co-operative Enterprise". 

The UN IYC 2012 also saw the formation of Social Enterprise Australia which has subsequently become the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM). This organisation provides leadership to the sector in the fields of education, research, promotion and advocacy as well as fostering the development of a strong co-operative and mutual enterprise industry in Australia.