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New report Co-op membership hits 1B worldwide
MADISON, Wis. (3/29/12)--Roughly one billion people in 96 countries belong to cooperatives, with credit unions constituting the second-largest segment, according to a new report from Worldwatch Institute.

Also, 99% of cooperative businesses primarily operate within seven economic sectors (2012intlsummit.coop March 28).

Those sectors, including their annual revenue (in U.S. dollars) and percentage share of all cooperatives worldwide are:

  • Agriculture/Forestry, $472 billion, 29%;
  • Cooperative Banking/Credit Unions, $430 billion, 26%;
  • Consumer/Retail, $354 billion, 22%;
  • Insurance, $282 billion, 17%;
  • Workers/Industrial, $35 billion, 2%;
  • Health, $27 billion, 2%;
  • Utilities, $18 billion, 1%; and
  • Other, $17 billion, 1%.
The one billion members of cooperatives worldwide exceed the 893 million direct and indirect shareholders of corporations, the report noted.  Also, 13.8% of the world's population is a member of at least one cooperative, compared with 5% who are direct shareholders.

Credit union branches comprise 23% of financial institutions worldwide and serve 870 million people, making credit unions the second-largest financial services network in the world, the report noted. 

For a free copy of the report, contact Supria Kumar at skumar@worldwatch.org.
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