Genossenschaftsidee - Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen
Cooperative values

Achieving more together:

A humble idea becomes part of the world’s cultural heritage

In March 2018, we commemorated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen. Through his actions and his pursuit of the cooperative principle, he was able to improve the lives and economic circumstances of people in a tangible way. In 2016, UNESCO honored the lasting impact of his idea.

“Great idea, Mr. Raiffeisen!”

Happy 200th birthday! This year, Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, the founding father of the cooperative principle, would have celebrated the bicentenary of his birth. His idea is more relevant now than ever before. In 2016, Germany was home to over 8,000 cooperatives with more than 22.4 million members – and numbers are rising steadily. The cooperative principle was also added to the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2016. We are excited about this honor, because cooperative enterprises and local cooperative banks form a key part of Germany’s traditional small and medium-sized business landscape and German society. Cooperatives work in a long-term oriented and sustainable manner, focus on supporting and promoting their members and their region, and address the big challenges of our time. To honor Raiffeisen’s achievement and to demonstrate the great potential that the cooperative principle holds for the future, the ‘Great idea, Mr. Raiffeisen!’ campaign was launched in early 2018. Over the course of the year, a series of events, initiatives, and competitions will take place as part of this campaign. More information can be found at


On May 11, 2017, Maria Böhmer, minister of state at the German Foreign Office, presented the UNESCO certificate that formally confirmed the status of the ‘idea and practice of organizing shared interests in cooperatives’ as intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The cooperative principle has a long tradition, but – more importantly – it has a future.

Prof. Dr. Maria Böhmer, President of the German UNESCO Committee