The international co-op movement was solidified in 1895 in London when the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) was founded. This first congress brought together representatives of the co-op world from Germany, Australia, the United States, India, and Switzerland, among other countries.
During this meeting, the objectives of the ICA were defined. They aimed to inform, develop international trade, and defend the principles of co-operatives. Today, the ICA is the only organization to have survived both world wars. This is due in large part to the ICA’s ability to maintain its commitment to peace and democracy while remaining politically neutral.
Today, it is estimated that over 12% of the world population belongs to a co-operative. In total, there are three million co-operatives around the globe. These co-ops are known to employ 10% of the world’s working population—some 280 million people. They generate a total turnover of 2034 billion USD*.
The ICA represents over a billion members of the three million co-operatives located around the world.
This makes it one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world. In Canada, the co-op movement is thriving. Indeed, co-ops were responsible for 61.2 billion dollars of Canada’s GDP in 2015, which was an increase of 12% from 2010. In addition, the co-op sector represents 3.4% of the total economy and 3.6% of jobs in Canada, or 666,146 jobs**. The co-op economy is constantly growing and remains stable and solid.