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Global Business Ownership 2012

This is the first statistical analysis to compare co-operative and conventional business ownership worldwide. The report analyses the number of people who have an ownership stake of co-operative enterprise together with those who have an ownership stake through company shares.

The findings are that:

  • There are three times as many member owners of co-operatives as individual shareholders worldwide. There are 328 million people who own shares, compared to 1 billion who are member owners of co-operative enterprises.
  • There are three countries with over half the population in co-operative membership and are all in Europe. These are Ireland (70%), Finland  (60%) and Austria (59%).
  • The countries with the most significant numbers of people in co-operative membership, however, are predominantly in Asia and the Americas. These are India (242 million), China (160 million) and the USA (120 million).   
  • One in five people across the Americas, North and South, are a member of a co-operative.
  • Only 7% of the world population lives in countries that do not have stock markets.
  • In Africa, one in thirteen people is a member of a co-operative and there are six times as many co-operative owners as there are shareholders.
  • The country with the widest shareholder ownership across its population is Japan (31%). In Japan, this has doubled over the past two decades, whereas in the UK, individual share ownership, compared to other institutional investors, has halved.
  • In the fast-growing BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), there are four times as many co-operative members as direct shareholders. 15% of their population are co-operative members, compared to only 3.8% who are shareholders.