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International Co-operative Alliance(ICA)

Founded in 1895, the International Co-operative Alliance is an independent, non-governmental organisation which unites, represents and serves co-operatives worldwide. It is the largest non-governmental organisations in the world. ICA members are national and international co-operative organisations in all sectors of activity including agriculture, banking, fisheries, health, housing, industry, insurance, tourism and consumer co-operatives. Currently, ICA has 292 member organisations from close to a hundred countries, representing approximately 1 billion individuals worldwide.

ICA's priorities and activities centre on promoting and defending the Co-operative Identity, ensuring that co-operative enterprise is a recognised form of enterprise that is able to compete in the marketplace.

  • ICA raises awareness about co-operatives. It helps individuals, government authorities and regional and international institutions understand the co-operative model of enterprise. ICA is the voice of the co-operative movement.
  • ICA ensures that the right policy environment exists to enable co-operatives to grow and prosper. It helps its members in their lobbying for new legislation and more appropriate administrative procedures that respect the co-operative model, its principles and values. It provides political support as well as technical expertise to enable co-operatives to compete on a level playing field.
  • ICA provides its members with key information, best practice and contacts.Through its publications it ensures the sharing of information. It organises meetings and workshops to address key issues affecting co-operatives and allows discussion among co-operators from around the world. ICA facilitates contacts between co-operatives for trading purposes and intelligence sharing in a wide range of areas.
  • ICA provides technical assistance to co-operatives through its development programme. ICA promotes capacity-building and financial support, it facilitates job creation and supports poverty reduction and microfinance programmes around the world.

More information on ICA's structure, ICA's activities, ICA's membership, ICA's publications. Also please contact the ICA for any further information.

Co-operative Flag

The ICA logo depicts doves of peace emerging from a rainbow - the symbol of the Co-operative Movement - and represents the unity of ICA's diverse membership. It was initially designed for ICA' Centennial Congress in 1995.

The colours of the rainbow stand for the following for co-operatives:

Red stands for courage. 
Orange offers the vision of possibilities. 
Yellow represents the challenge that GREEN has kindled. 
Green  represents growth, a challenge to co-operators to strive for growth of membership and of understanding of the aims and values of co-operation.
Sky blue   suggests far horizons, the need to provide education and help to unfortunate people and to strive towards global unity. 
Dark blue  suggests pessimism, reminding us of less fortunate people in the world who are in need of the benefits from co-operation. 
Violet  is the colour of warmth, beauty and friendship

ICA launched its new logo in 2013 during its General Assembly in Cape Town

A global marque for co-operatives has been unveiled by the International Co-operative Alliance. The co-operative logo, designed by a British co-operative, has been launched at the Alliance’s Global Conference in Cape Town. Calverts, the London-based creative co-operative, was commissioned in March by the ICA to create the common identity. Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, said: “This new brand or identifier that we have produced is something that we believe there is a real thirst for around the world and has been for some time. When we had the UN logo everybody around the world used it.” Designed by Calverts, with support from the Barcelona- and Buenos Aires-based Guerrini Island Design, the branding has been designed with feedback provided by co-operators around the world. The process has been overseen by the ICA’s communications committee, which is chaired by Co-operatives UK Secretary General Ed Mayo. Mr Mayo said: “The idea of a common marque for the co-operative movement is implicit in many of the images we associate with co-operatives over time. The wheatsheaf, the bees, circles, hands, the rainbow. All of these have been images that have helped to unite the co-operative movement over time. “The great quality of the co-operative marque, is you look at it and immediately you think yes that's us. That's who we are.”

In April 2013, the Co-operative Global Identity Survey gathered over 1,000 views from 86 countries from those within the movement. It asked people to choose colours that they best associated with co-operatives, along with what it means to be a co-operative. The results from the survey have been fed into the design process that has produced the final marque, colour palette, slogan and brand language, this is something that all co-operatives can align with and which will differentiate them from other forms of business. Added Mr Mayo: “I'm so pleased the International Co-operative Alliance has taken the lead in developing this. The ICA’s Blueprint is the wider context for this — an ambitious programme of which confidence in the co-operative identity is one key element of realising our own potential as a movement. Just as membership of the ICA can be a unifying force and just as using the dotCoop model online can be a unifying force; the new co-operative marque can be something that helps to knit together the wider movement.” Though Mr Mayo believes that this isn’t going to create a change over night. Involved in the early development of the Fairtrade mark 20 years, Mr Mayo has experience that “on its own, it will do very little”. “In 20 years my vision is that the co-operative model is front of mind,” said Mr Mayo. “This marque will help us to be resonant and global across every country that we know co-operatives are present in. That we are a force for economic benefit and global justice.” A series of signature images have also been unveiled as part of the new visual identity. These have been developed by BrandOutLoud, a non-profit branding agency based in The Hague, Netherlands. The images subtly show the new identity’s double-O as the core and shows people connecting. Mr Mayo has also encouraged UK co-operatives to use the marque and accompanying imagery. He said: “The invitation I would make to every co-operative and mutual enterprise is to look at the new co-operative marque to see how you can use it, whether it's in your business material, on your website, through social media, in your consumer information or on products. Look to see how you can show how you are proud to be a co-operative.” Dame Pauline added: “I would say to co-operators I believe that this is a marque that I think you can identify with. It says who you are – nobody else can use it”. “I believe that bona fide co-operatives who stick to their principles and good governance and member ownership should be using this to prove that they are a good, sound, co-operative businesses who subscribe and aspire to the principles of the global co-operative movement."