THE RAIFFEISEN IDEA
The idea for a cooperative occurred in the 19th century. One of the cooperative’s significant pioneers was Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (1818-1888). He set himself the task to alleviate the population’s major economic poverty.
The conception was taken up in Austria; and slowly but steadily, the Raiffeisen organisation, founded at the end of 19th century, grew.
At the end of the 19th century, the number of savings and loan associations had risen to about 600.
The development of Raiffeisen in Austria is inextricably linked with the country’s history, on which, in turn, Raiffeisen had a determining influence.
Whoever deals with our country’s economic development will inevitably come across Raiffeisen cooperatives.
Raiffeisen cooperatives were major sponsors of the economic recovery following the two World Wars.
Today, the Raiffeisen Organisation in Austria has no less than 2,083.380 members; in total, there exist 1,524 Raiffeisen cooperatives.
German original texts of the Austrian Co-Operative Societies Act and the Austrian Co-Operative Societies‘ Revision Act with unofficial translations:
Raiffeisen cooperatives pre-eminently aim achieving economic advancement of their members. The basis for this is a professional and successful business activity. However, the cooperative gives priority to the benefit of the member, not to the maximisation of its own profit.
Members of Raiffeisen cooperatives voluntarily join forces in order to support one another in the attainment of shared purposes. Thus, the individual may rely on the community’s solidary support, but must also be willing to make his or her own contribution.
Collaboration at Raiffeisen invariably occurs according to the principle of subsidiarity. Solely those tasks which the individual cannot fulfil by him- or herself at least just as well are performed by the community. This principle applies within each individual cooperative as well as to the collaboration of several cooperatives within the Raiffeisen combine.
Raiffeisen cooperatives are deeply embedded in their respective region. This guarantees excellent market knowledge and enables a personal relationship to members and clients – at the same time, an important fundament for active solidarity.
The voluntary work of countless functionaries form the backbone of Raiffeisen in Austria. As democratically elected boards of directors or members of the supervisory board, they are representatives of the respective members and, thereby, the voice and ears of their respective cooperative. The functionaries’ high level of commitment demonstrates their active co-responsibility; their competence ensures sustainable success.