The cooperative model has been sidelined in development cooperation for many years – for various reasons. On the one hand, cooperatives have been completely overestimated as an instrument and expected to solve a whole bunch of problems at one stroke. On the other hand, they were long misused for state purposes and have therefore been regarded with mistrust. The fact that the United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives is a good opportunity to take a closer look at this special form of enterprise. We wish to give you an idea of the range of manifestations that the cooperative model has taken worldwide and of the role that cooperatives can play in overcoming rural poverty.