Cooperative Roots and History

A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. (By definition of International Cooperative Alliance)

Our ties to the cooperative world

1970 – founding of ADG by the cooperative financial sector with the intention of creating a training institute focused specifically on the needs of their middle-sized cooperative clients.

Cooperative spirit – at ADG members and owners of the academy are also the main clients: primary cooperative banks, specialized cooperative institutions and their (con-)federations. By today, we are partner to almost 1.000 cooperative banks as well as 4.000 agricultural and commercial cooperatives.

Cooperative environment – Seminars at Montabaur castle bring together leaders and specialists from the cooperative world – and foster the exchange amongst them. Additionally, all trainings, seminars, etc. have a “cooperative baseline” which means that they are adapted to convey content considering peculiarities of cooperative relevance.

History and cooperative roots

  1. Cooperative idea proposed to become Intangible Cultural World Heritage by the German Raiffeisen- and Schulze Delitzsch- foundations
  2. Many consider Germany (and specifically the Montabaur region) the cradle of the cooperative idea
  3. Cooperatives play an important role in German energy transition to renewable sources


German cooperative history dates back to the second half of the 19th century when the first cooperative structures attempted to answer social and societal challenges such as the hunger crisis. The two main characters in this movement were:

Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch (left), Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (right)

Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch established the first urban cooperative in 1849 - a shoemaker cooperative.

Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen founded the first rural savings and credit cooperative as well as an agricultural cooperative.

In the decades that followed, the cooperative idea spread throughout Germany, Europe and worldwide. Amongst others, the middle and eastern European countries took the German cooperative law as a model, originally designed by Schulze-Delitzsch in 1889.


Cooperatives constitute an important part of the SME sector and are a vitalising factor for the economy in numerous business fields. Amongst others, they play a crucial role in Germany's energy transition and increase of renewable energies. In total, the cooperative network is one of the largest economic organisations in Germany with over 19 million members in more than 5.000 cooperatives.

They are classified as:

  • cooperative banks,
  • rural cooperatives,
  • commercial cooperatives,
  • consumer and service cooperatives,
  • housing cooperatives