Our History

Extending Canada’s co-operative legacy for more than 70 years.

As new nations emerged from the old Colonial world order after WWII, Canadian co-operative leaders felt a renewed commitment to use the co-operative model to help communities around the globe move out of poverty. It was a radical notion at a time when missionary and charity work dominated such outreach.  Formed in 1947, the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada soon became the focus for Canadian efforts to foster self-reliant, member owned co-operative movements in the far-flung corners of the world. This included Northern Canada, where CDF Canada helped Inuit communities establish their own co-operative stores.

Since those early days, CDF Canada has held steadfast to the seven co-operative principles, mobilizing the abundant talents and resources of Canadians and their co-operatives to help partners in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Eastern Europe build lasting pathways to prosperity. Co-operation and the simple notion of people pooling their time and resources to achieve together what they cannot achieve in isolation remains at the heart of everything we do at CDF Canada.

What Is a Co-operative?

A co-operative is an autonomous association of people who are united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

The Governing Principles of Co-operatives

Open Membership

Co-operatives are voluntary and inclusive of all persons without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

Democratic Control

Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who participate in setting policies, making decisions and electing representatives. Members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).

Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative.


Co-operatives are autonomous self-help organizations controlled by their members.

Education, Training, & Information

Co-operatives provide education and training to members and employees and inform the public about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

Co-operation Among Co-operatives

Co-operatives work together through local, national, regional and international structures to support their mutual success.

Concern for Community

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies approved by members.



Each year, CDF Canada works with donors, partners and its team members to build a global co-operative community. Download our Annual Report for more insights on our progress and impact.

Click to view

Stay updated on our news, projects and opportunities.

Subscribe Now