Resource and sparring partner for cooperatives


Onno van Bekkum (1969) is Cooperative Strategist and CEO of CO-OP Champions. Since 1995, he has worked as cooperative researcher and advisor, with a strong interest in comparative analysis of cooperatives in different parts of the world, focusing on business strategy and internationalization, ownership and capitalization, governance and leadership, and member engagement and loyalty. His home country, the Netherlands, has a strong cooperative and agricultural tradition, but his perspective and analysis are international. He has invested in a research database covering over 500 of the largest food and agribusiness cooperatives in some 40 countries worldwide. He lectures cooperative case studies in three modules of the Nyenrode Food & Finance Executive MBA.


Onno holds a PhD in Economics from Nyenrode Business Universiteit (2001: on strategies and capital structures of dairy cooperatives in Europe and Oceania) and an MSc in Agricultural Economics from Wageningen University (1993). He worked three years as international agricultural policy analist at Rabobank Nederland (1995-97); four years as part-time assistant professor at the Chair of Cooperative Studies in Wageningen University (1994-98); and then twelve years as senior cooperative researcher and advisor with Prof. Gert van Dijk at the Netherlands Institute for Cooperative Entrepreneurship (NICE) based at Nyenrode (1998-2009). His first major cooperative research project "Agricultural Cooperatives in the European Union" was published as a book in 1997, since when he updates an European annual ranking of the largest 100 agri-food cooperatives (and several other ones). In 2006-07 he was one of the main contributors of the ICA's first two Global 300 rankings. As a consultant he has worked for a cooperatives including Rabobank, FrieslandCampina, Fonterra, Tine, Dairy Farmers of Britain (sorry), The Greenery, CRV, and Dumeco/Vion.

Personal drive

My great passion in life is to promote the oneness of humanity. I am a strong believer in world citizenship. Whatever we can do to eradicate prejudice, bring an end to injustice, improve the lives of people in need, and foster the ties of unity - I think that would be of utmost importance. My international perspective dates back to my childhood education and Baha’i beliefs: “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”; “Let your vision be world-embracing.” And, also professionally relevant for me: “Special regard must be paid to agriculture” and “Humanity’s supreme need is reciprocity and cooperation”.*

While I don’t have an agricultural background, I strongly sympathize with farmers. I find that they are good people and that there is something special about them. Obviously, farmers feed the world, which people don’t always realize. But beyond that, their entrepreneurship close to nature, often since many generations, gives (many of) them a balanced, healthy attitude to life, to human relations and commerce. Being vulnerable in the global market place, farmers have to rely on themselves and on cooperation. I believe farmers, as people and as protagonists of the cooperative business model, may well have something very valuable to offer, also to future society.

* To read more about my personal and professional values, click here.


Dr. Onno van Bekkum

Independent &

CO-OP Champions was launched in January 2010, in the midst of the financial crisis. For the time being CO-OP Champions is a one-man firm, but the vision of CO-OP Champions is bigger than that. Our ideal is to link up with like-minded cooperative specialists internationally, together promoting an international, interactive learning environment for cooperative leaders. More specifically about this, you may read our plans for International Co-op Year 2012, which can find under the menu item “Network”. The name “champion” signifying as it does not just (1) the one who attains ultimate success (‘cooperative excellence’), but also (2) the one standing up to promote a cause (and could be successful in that too). In other words, we (as champion) are there for you, as you are laboring to build your champion. Back in 2008, at Nyenrode Business Universiteit, we attempted to host a World Cooperative Business Forum, gathering the leadership of the Global 300+ cooperatives. As title of the event, we chose: “Size matters: Cooperative Champions or Investor Targets”. At the time, we failed to succeed sufficient sponsoring during a very short time-frame, but the vision behind the event lives on in “CO-OP Champions”, so to say.

CO-OP Champions

CO-OP Champions

Dr. Onno F. van Bekkum

Cooperative Strategist & CEO

Van Herlaerstraat 1

5324 EA Ammerzoden

The Netherlands

Mobile: +31 (0)6-3614 5231