Building Together What Would Be Impossible To Build Alone
What is a Cooperative?
A cooperative is an organization that is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use its products, supplies or services. Cooperatives are formed to meet the specific objectives of members, and are structured to adapt to member’s changing needs. Working together as a group, members find they can accomplish more collectively than they could individually.
The benefits of belonging to cooperatives include:
- Access to quality supplies and services at reasonable costs
- Increased visibility and leverage in the marketplace
- Share in earnings based on use of co-op
- Effective political action
- Enhance local economy through services and job creation
Principles of a Cooperative
Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.
1) Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2) Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions.
3) Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.
4) Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members.
5) Education, Training, and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
6) Cooperation among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
7) Concern for Community
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.