The Raiffeisen Year 2018 | 200 Jahre Raiffeisen

The Raiffeisen Year 2018

“Raiffeisen. Strong idea!”

The Raiffeisen Year 2018 is celebrating the 200th birthday of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, the founder of the cooperative idea, a whole year long. His idea was and still is of great importance, both in Germany and worldwide. The aim of the Raiffeisen Year 2018 is therefore not only to reintroduce the cooperative idea, but to set the stage for Raiffeisen’s descendants to carry on his legacy in politics, business, and society.

What actually is a cooperative?

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.

International Cooperative Alliance

More than 22 million people in Germany and more than 1 billion people worldwide are now members of a cooperative. Together, they make up the backbone of the middle class. They create more than 100 million jobs worldwide and provide people with housing and social well-being. Cooperatives operate sustainably and responsibly and promote their local members. Behind each cooperative stand the founders, members, and a strong idea.

“What one person cannot achieve is achieved by many”. While it may not be obvious, behind this phrase lies a man and an idea that have changed the world. Raiffeisen’s impact can be experienced for example at the bank, at the theater, at supermarkets, and under your own roof. In fact, his idea is so strong that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) recognized the cooperative idea as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


The following are some of the largest cooperatives from around the world:

  • China National Agricultural Means of Production Group Corporation
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
  • Crédit Agricole Group
  • Zen-Noh (National Federation of Agricultural Co-operatives)
  • Whole Foods Co-op
  • NTUC Income
  • HBF
  • CHS Inc.
  • Desjardins Group
  • IFFCO-Indian Farmers Fertiliser Co-operative Limited
  • Taiwan Co-operative Bank


The Initiators

The Deutsche Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen-Gesellschaft

A great idea deserves to be further developed and reintroduced again and again. Therefore, the Deutsche Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen-Gesellschaft (German Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen Organization) was founded on June 1st, 2012 in Weyerbusch. In addition to the former WGZ BANK (today: DZ BANK), the organization was founded with the initiatives of the Westerwaldbank, the Verbandsgemeinde Flammersfeld, and the Heimatfreunde im Hammer Land. The “Gesellschaft”, or organization, is dedicated to the “care and appreciation of the life-work of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen and his intellectual heritage inherited in writings and speeches”, the “promotion of the cooperative ideology in Germany”, as well as leading discussions and debates with cooperatives. To achieve this, the organization invites people to scientific lectures, conferences, and workshops. In addition, there are regular publications, all in line with the existing institutions of the cooperative system.

Werner Böhnke

Werner Böhnke, born in 1951, has been the chairman of the Deutsche Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen-Gesellschaft since its founding in 2012. Since then he promotes the awareness of the father of the cooperative society and his vision, which includes working on the supervisory board of the Raiffeisen-Campus, a full-time grammar school in cooperative operation.


Werner Böhnke, Chairman of the Deutsche Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen-Gesellschaft
Foto: RAIFFEISEN 2018 Organisationsbüro

Josef Zolk

Josef Zolk, born in 1949, was mayor of the Verbandsgemeinde Flammersfeld for 15 years. Today, he is also acting as vice-chairman of the Deutsche Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen-Gesellschaft. He has witnessed the inscription of the cooperative idea on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in Addis Ababa: “This is an emotional thrust. Cooperatives show that they are modern.”


Josef Zolk, Vice-Chairman of the Deutsche Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen-Gesellschaft
Foto: RAIFFEISEN 2018 Organisationsbüro


In the Westerwälder Manifesto, leading cooperative associations and representatives from the cooperative world have agreed on common goals for business and society. The signatories and supporters of the “Raiffeisen Year 2018” campaign are, in addition to the Deutscher Genossenschafts und Raiffeisenbverband (DGRV), the following partners:


The DZ BANK AG Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank is the central bank and top-tier institution that supports the business of some 1,000 independent cooperative banks. The services offered by DZ BANK range from classic and innovative products through structuring and emissions to trading and sales in the equity and bond markets. In addition, DZ BANK serves as a retail bank for organizations and institutions that need superregional banking partners. DZ BANK is based in Frankfurt am Main.


Wolfgang Kirsch, CEO of DZ BANK AG

Deutscher Raiffeisenverband e.V. (DRV)

The Deutscher Raiffeisenverband e.V. (DRV) is committed to the interests of the cooperative companies in the German agricultural and food industry – at national, European, and international levels with respect to politics, economic partners, and the general public. It seeks to practically organize the economic and agricultural policy conditions.

As a cross-border federation, the DRV bundles and formulates the expectations of its 2,200 member companies and introduces them into the legislative procedures. The DRV is also a consultant and service provider for its members in all aspects of agricultural, economic, environmental, and fiscal matters. With market and competition analysis, the DRV also supports its strategic orientation towards the requirements of globalized markets.


Franz-Josef Holzenkamp, President of the Deutscher Raiffeisenverband e.V. (DRV)
Foto: DRV
Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken e.V. (BVR)

(Federation Association of German People’s Banks and Raiffeisen Banks)

The Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken e.V. (BVR) is the leading association of the cooperative banking group in Germany. Members are all cooperative banks (Volksbanken, Raiffeisenbanken, Sparda-Banken, PSD Banken, Kirchenbanken, and special institutions), cooperative central banks, the enterprises of the financial group, and the cooperative auditing associations. The BVR represents the interests of the cooperative banking group both nationwide and internationally. It coordinates and develops the common strategy of the Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken. In addition, it advises and assists its members in legal, fiscal, and business matters.


Marija Kolak, President of the Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken e.V. (BVR)
Foto: BVR

RAIFFEISEN 2018 Organisationsbüro

Under the umbrella of KOMPAKTMEDIEN

For the implementation of the Raiffeisen Year 2018, the Deutsche Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen- Gesellschaft has established an Organisationsbüro (organizational office), which was founded under the umbrella of KOMPAKTMEDIEN Agentur für Kommunikation GmbH in Berlin. From here, the Organisationsbüro makes the public aware of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen and his ideas of cooperatives for example through events, customer and member magazines, targeted media reporting, books, and the website



For further information please do not hesitate to get in touch with the RAIFFEISEN 2018 Organisationsbüro, Andreas Eder, +49 (0) 30 / 30 88 11-41,