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Co-ops and mutuals sector remains strong despite COVID crisis


2 February 2021 at 5:52 pm
Luke Michael
A new report says many cooperatives adopted measures to make their business more sustainable and aid society in 2020  


Luke Michael | 2 February 2021 at 5:52 pm


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Co-ops and mutuals sector remains strong despite COVID crisis
2 February 2021 at 5:52 pm

A new report says many cooperatives adopted measures to make their business more sustainable and aid society in 2020  

The world’s top 300 cooperatives and mutuals recorded a total turnover of more than $2.8 trillion in 2018, according to new research which also explored the sector’s response to the pandemic.        

The World Cooperative Monitor 2020 looked at the economic and social impact of the largest cooperatives and mutuals worldwide, with organisations ranked by turnover using 2018 financial data.

French banking group Groupe Crédit Agricole was at the top of the list, with a turnover of US$89.1 billion (A$117 billion), followed by REWE Group and Groupe BPCE.

Collectively, the top 300 organisations reported a turnover of US$2.146 trillion (A$2.82 trillion), which builds on the US$2.034 trillion (A$2.67 trillion) collective turnover recorded in last year’s report.

There were four Australian organisations in the rankings – Co-operative Bulk Handling (149), HCF (199), Murray Goulburn Co-operative (272) and HBF Health (280).

The report also explored how the global pandemic has affected the sector, noting that “cooperatives have proven resilient and innovative” throughout the crisis.

It said cooperatives from every continent have adopted measures to make their business more sustainable and aid society in general.

“Agricultural and retail cooperatives are helping vulnerable people and providing essential goods to those more affected by lockdowns,” the report said.

“Consumer cooperatives such as banks, utility providers and housing services [have also been] waiving late fees, postponing rents, offering broadband services to schools and providing low interest loans.”

The report went on to say that the resilience and preparation shown by the sector should galvanise policymakers around the world to work toward a fairer economic system that is more socially and mutually oriented.

“It is indeed a challenging period, but also an opportunity to prove the importance of developing a more social economy and the validity of the cooperative business model,” the report said.

Gianluca Salvatori, the secretary general at the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, said this research showed the enduring strength of the sector through adverse times.

“2020 faced us with the need to address a social emergency without depressing our economies. This has always been the case for cooperatives,” Salvatori said.

“So their model is more topical than ever. And the objective of the monitor is to show how the cooperative model is capable of facing major challenges, activating important resources through large organisations, without any inferiority complex.”

You can see the report here.  


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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