The cooperative movement began before the consummation of the Union, concentrating then as now on marketing agricultural produce. The movement's rapid advance, however, dates from 1922, when the first Cooperative Societies Act was passed. Every branch of farming has its own associations, to which about 75% of all farmers belong; these groups are affiliated with provincial organizations, which, in turn, are members of the South African Agricultural Union.
The South African Federated Chamber of Industries is the chief employers' organization. The Association of Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCOM) was formed in 1892 to promote commerce and industry in South Africa. In 1990 the South African Chamber of Business (SACOB) was formed by the merger of the Association of Commerce and Industry and the South African Federated Chamber of Industries. One hundred and two chambers of commerce and industry are members of SACOB.
To provide special aid to Afrikaans-speaking businesspeople, the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut was established in Pretoria in 1942. It now assists all Afrikaner businesses involved in commerce, finance, and mining. Membership is offered if at least half the capital of a firm is owned by Afrikaners.
The Royal Society of South Africa, founded in 1877, is the leading scholarly organization. The Geological Society of South Africa (founded in 1895) has published important research in its Transactions, and its influence extends beyond South Africa. The African Music Society, an international organization that specializes in the recording of music of all parts of Africa, has its headquarters near Johannesburg. Other organizations have been established for studies in Afrikaans, archaeology, economics, medicine, technology, and other fields.
There are a number of sports associations throughout the country. National youth organizations include the ANC Youth League, Girl Guides Association of South Africa, National Catholic Federation of Students, YMCA/YWCA, South African Scout Association, South African Student Congress, South African Young Christian Workers, and Youth for Christ. Women's organizations include the ANC Women's League, National Council of Women of South Africa, and programs through the Office on the Status of Women. The Red Cross is active.