What began in 1948 as an organisation to help develop “friendly relations” between member countries is now a global association with activities in 100 different countries and territories.
At the time of AIESEC’s founding at the conclusion of the 1940s, Europe was in the midst of recovery from the war that dealt grave losses to its population. Factories and enterprises were in desperate need of executives, managers and leaders. The continent needed more than just business development, however; the war had severely damaged relations between European nations, and many members of the community felt steps needed to be taken to address this problem.
AIESEC was formed to address both of these concerns. Students from seven nations: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden came together in March 1949 for the first International Congress of AIESEC in Stockholm. The founders composed a constitution for the new organization and defined a purpose:
“AIESEC is an independent, non-political, and international organization which has as its purpose to establish and promote the friendly relations between the members…”
In the first year of AIESEC’s existence, 89 students were exchanged among the member nations. The organization grew exponentially in the following years. More than 1,000 traineeships took place in 1955 alone, and in 1957 the United States became the first non-European member.
Since those humble beginnings, AIESEC has spread out into more than 110 countries. AIESEC’s members have been recognized by world leaders from Pope Paul VI to former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. The organization has also shown a proven track record of leadership development, with notable alumni like former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Nobel Peace Prize laureate & former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari.
“I commend AIESEC’s continuing efforts to develop the future business leadership of our countries.”
Nelson Mandela, President Republic of South Africa
AIESEC today is the world’s largest youth-run organization. More importantly, we continue to strive toward our original goals and to fulfil our mission through exchange and leadership development. We continue to be dedicated to cultural understanding and, by forging a new generation of leaders who are passionate about our causes, believe the next 60 years of our history will be still more distinguished than the first.
Please find below the AIESEC 60th publication with the detailed history of AIESEC.