2012: The International Year of Cooperatives

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The Cooperative Business Model is one that will put money and power back into the hands of people while strengthening communities in the process. The UN named 2012 as the “international year of cooperatives.” According to the UN, nearly 1 billion people worldwide are co-op member-owners. According to the UN, co-ops are expected to be the world’s fastest growing business model by 2025. Co-ops are collaboratively owned and operated by their members. Decisions are balanced between pursuit of profit and needs of members and their communities. Co-op’s have proven to be just as profitable as their corporate counterparts, yet their profits go back to the community of worker-owners, rather than to investors or high priced management.  Examples include the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry in Cleveland, Ohio, and the ‘Mondragon Corporation’, one of the world’s largest corporations and a cooperative.  Founded in 1965, Mondragon is considered the most successful example of worker-owned enterprise in the world.

Green worker co-op’s promise to build strong local economies and help to break the cycle of poverty by keeping community money within the community. Since banks and credit unions typically do not lend money to co-op’s some groups are finding innovative ways to raise money without bank loans. The Alchemy Co-op in Melrose, MA raised over $10,000 to start their organic food co-op through online crowd-funding. Crowd-funding and other forms of collective financing are allowing local coops to get off the ground and empower their communities.


“The Year of the Cooperative”Yes! Magazine, Jessica Reeder, February 1, 2012,



“American Dream 2.0: Can Worker-Owned Coops End Poverty?” Monique Hairston, Rebuild The Dream, March 9, 2012.



Student Researcher: Shahin Karimbeik, San Francisco State University

Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University