The first Christian-inspired co-operatives started in Italy around 1870. From the beginning they distinguished themselves as powerful instruments of economic and social emancipation for their individual members and for the local communities that expressed a desire for civil development.
Historically, the first "Christian" co-operatives to gain ground, as early as 1880, as bodies capable of influencing the growth of Italian society, were those concerned with credit (rural and artisans' banks, mutual aid banks).
The Confederazione Cooperative Italiane was first established in 1919. After its dissolution carried out by the Fascist Government, it was re-established on a new basis in 1945 by representatives of the Catholic world. In 1947, co-operation and its social function received the official acknoledgement by the Italian State in art. 45 of the Italian Constitution and Confcooperative itself was acknowleged as a primary national association representing, assisting, protecting and auditing the co-operative movement.
Over the years Confcooperative has implemented a policy sensitive to the needs and changes of the social, civil and economic world.
This has permitted constant increase in membership so that today the Confederation is the largest part of the Italian co-operative movement.