Co-operative enterprise is a major force for sustainable economic and social development not just in the North West of England, but across the UK, and throughout the world. Nationally, Co-operativesUK (www.cooperativesuk.coop) has verifiable data confirming turnover of £22.5 billion, and estimates the UK sector as a whole is turning over in excess of £30 billion. The co-operatives in membership of Co-operativesUK between them employ some 100,000 people.
At the global level, the International Co-operative Alliance (www.ica.coop) estimates that over 800 million people are members of co-operatives, which together employ over 100 million people. A 2006 survey of co-operative and mutual enterprises worldwide (www.global300.coop) found that the top 300 such businesses alone were together equivalent in scale to the world’s tenth largest economy, with a collective turnover nearing $1 trillion.
The Rochdale Pioneers started the world's first successful co-operative enterprise in 1846. Co-operative businesses around the world are defined and characterised by shared co-operative values and principles.
"... co-operative enterprises provide the organizational means whereby a significant proportion of humanity is able to take into its own hands the task of creating productive employment, overcoming poverty and achieving social integration ..."
Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary-General