Mission and History
Founded in 1916, the National Cooperative Business Association, CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) began as the Cooperative League of America until it was renamed the Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA) in 1922, and then rebranded as NCBA in 1985. Today, now known as NCBA CLUSA, we are the oldest not-for-profit cooperative development and trade association in the United States, fostering cooperative and international economic and social development in the United States and abroad. Our mission is to develop, advance, and protect cooperative enterprise; our work highlights the impact that cooperatives have in the economic success of communities around the world. Internationally, our mission is to alleviate poverty through economic and social empowerment.
As a U.S. trade association, NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector education, support, and advocacy that helps domestic cooperatives thrive. U.S. membership includes leading primary cooperatives and national associations active in a broad range of cooperative sectors including agriculture, telecommunications, electricity, banking and finance, insurance, housing, health care, consumer goods, purchasing, student services, and worker-owned enterprises.
In 1944, CLUSA formed the Freedom Fund to help cooperatives recover in war-torn Europe. The following year, we played an integral role in creating the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, now known as CARE, and CLUSA’s President, Murray Lincoln, was CARE’s first president. In 1953, CLUSA continued its international work by helping India’s farmers build an agricultural cooperative infrastructure that created a strong, integrated agricultural sector and helped India become one of the world’s largest producers of milk and dairy products. NCBA CLUSA helped start the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), now the largest fertilizer business in Asia, and the Indian dairy cooperative, Anand Milk Union Limited (AMUL).
Since that time, NCBA CLUSA has helped create and strengthen many influential cooperative organizations, including the National Cooperative Bank (NCB), Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (VOCA), and Cooperative Business International (CBI), a global trading company that sells cooperatively grown products valued at over $100 million annually to coffee and spice companies, including Starbucks, Green Mountain Coffee, and McCormicks, among others. We have also helped launch numerous local organizations in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia that are still operating today providing business financing and development services, extension services, training and community capacity-building in a range of sectors.
NCBA CLUSA continues to be the intersection for the cooperative sectors in the U.S., promoting cross-sector collaboration, and promoting and protecting cooperative businesses and principles. Internationally, we will continue to provide innovative, market-based cooperative business solutions to smallholder farmers, youth, women, and local organizations and communities, working with local and national counterparts to empower individuals and families to achieve economic security and a better, longer and healthier quality of life.