The history of the Raiffeisen bank started in the mid-19th century during a time when famine and economic breakdown was on the horizon.It was of many co-oops and loan societies formed at the time with the purpose of helping famers and their families survive the famine and economic crisis at the time.

The Raiffeisen Bank Group was found by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (1818 – 1888), who was the mayor of villages in the German Westerwald Province.  He created many initiatives with the intention of helping peasants survive hardships.  These initiatives were ran based on Christian principles, and as much as these initiatives were helping, they were not having as big of an impact as expected and it seemed to only be helping peasants in the short run.  To rectify this, Raiffeisen transition these initiatives into a more organized self-help programs.  In 1862, a credit cooperative was created, where farmers could borrow the money they needed to stay afloat and get back on their feet, and they would work to pay back what they were credited.  This cooperative was made possible by a pool fund funded by the farmer’s savings and were distributed as loans for famers and peasants in need.  This became the foundation of what is known today has the Raiffeisen Bank Group.

Oberbank-Austria

The first Raiffeisen bank opened in 1886 in Mühldorf, Austria.  The co-op members included farmers, craftsmen, laborers, and traders.  The idea of supporting farmers, laborers, etc., attracted many political figures, including the state parliament, which geared even more Raiffeisen banks to be open.

The Raiffeisen Bank Group then opened its first warehouse cooperative in Austria in 1898, and in the same year, the General Association of Agricultural Cooperatives in Austria was established. By 1918, over 2,000 cooperatives were formed.

When the First World War started and ended it took a toll on many economic systems in many different countries.  Soon the Republic of Austria was able to reorganize and establish the Genossenchaftliche Zentralbank (GZB), which is today’s Raiffeisen Zentralbank.  Austria saw another economic hit after the commencement of the Second World War and many Austrians were facing the effects of poverty.  To help relieve this cooperatives were given the responsibility of preserving the food supply.  In 1946 the general association was reestablished and currently trades under the name “Osterreichischer Raiffeisenverband.”

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After rebuilding from the Second World War the Raiffeisen Bank Group continue to grow and modernizing itself along with the times.  Over the years that have opened their cooperatives to new industries and reaching new populations.  They opened their building cooperative in 1961, and in the 1970s they sponsored their first sports team.  Also in the 70s, they opened dairy and wine cooperatives.  They opened their first ATM in Austria in 1980.  They became and still are a big factor and supporter in EU economic affairs, while still supporting the farmers, craftsmen, and other business owners in various industries.

The Logo

The Logo of the Raiffeisen Bank Group is the gable cross, which symbolizes protection and security.  The origins of the gable cross came from a time when villagers added the gable cross to their roof gable to protect themselves from danger.  The protection and security that the gable cross represents made it a perfect logo for the Raiffeisen Bank Group.  In the beginning the Raiffeisen Bank Group has supported farmers and laborers, ensuring that they have the means to help themselves get on their feet and stay there.  Today, they have opened many cooperatives in various industries and have been a support system in the EU, protecting and securing people from all industries and walks of life.