"Things that are impossible for one person acting alone can often be achieved by many people acting together" – this idea has always formed the basis of cooperative banks' activities.
The idea of a cooperative bank
The model for success: a strong community
Local roots, with a national network of committed members and democratically organised: this is what characterises cooperative banks like BIB. The idea of a cooperative was first dreamed up in the 19th century. Based on self-help mechanisms, a model for success was developed that is still in use today.
"Things that are impossible for one person acting alone can often be achieved by many people acting together." Cooperative banks have been implementing this strong belief, the core idea of founders Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen and Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch, for over 160 years. Watch our film to see how the idea of a cooperative has developed and why it is still relevant today.
Economic change and social hardship
The history of the cooperative banks begins in the 19th century. This period was shaped by famines and crop failures. Farmers, craftsmen and small companies were particularly affected by social hardships. They needed loans, but had to turn to private money-lenders as they did not have access to private banks in the city. Many ran up debts, sank into poverty and lost their economic livelihood.
One aim, two paths
Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen both developed the cooperative idea of "helping others to help themselves" as a way out of the existential crisis at almost the same time. Independently of one another, they set up credit and loan associations, laying the foundations for the creation of cooperative banks. The power of the community makes it possible for individuals to help themselves, following the motto: "Things that are impossible for one person acting alone can often be achieved by many people acting together."
1843: citizens set up a lending bank in Öhringen, Württemberg, and laid the foundations for what is today the oldest cooperative bank, Volksbank Hohenlohe.
1849: Schulze-Delitzsch founded the first cooperative, the "Schuhmacher-Assoziation".
1851: a cooperative credit association was set up in Eilenburg, Saxony, which Schulze-Delitzsch used as a model.
1855: Schulze-Delitzsch developed guidelines for the setting up of cooperative banks.
1862: the first bank to follow Raiffeisen's template was set up in Anhausen, Westerwald.
1866: Raiffeisen published guidelines for the setting up of agricultural loan associations.
A success story
Since then, the cooperative model has taken hold in every area of the finance sector. Amongst cooperative organisations, cooperative banks are the largest cooperative group in Germany, with approx. 30 million clients and roughly 17 million members. Cooperative banks have always operated with clearly defined ideals, led by the principles of self-help, self-management and self-responsibility.
Membership: achieving more together
The legal form "eingetragene Genossenschaft" (eG, registered cooperative) is based on membership. Members of a cooperative join together because this makes it easier for them to achieve a common economic goal. As a member of BIB, you have one or more membership shares in your bank and can participate in democratic decision-making processes.
Success through proximity
As a cooperative bank, we are legally and economically independent. Our proximity to our clients and to our market "Church institutions" means that have a close connection with them. We can respond quickly and flexibly to new situations on the ground because we know and appreciate the market. Take advantage of our special expertise. While other banks only want to increase their profits, our goal is to promote the economic interests of our clients and members.
Community: strong as a group
Together, the Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken (cooperative banks) form one of the most extensive banking service networks in Europe. They are multi-service financial institutions and offer their clients a wide range of financial services all under one roof. This is enabled through close cooperation with highly efficient specialist institutions within the Genossenschaftlichen FinanzGruppe Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken, such as Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall, Union Investment and the DZ BANK.