A cooperative is formed by a community to solve a common need.
Cooperatives are equally owned and controlled by the people who use their services (aka members), in the case of agricultural cooperatives and credit unions, or by those who deliver the services, in the case of worker-owned businesses like a bakery or taxi company. They exist in nearly all industries and business sectors.
A cooperative's sole purpose is to maximize benefits to its members rather than maximize benefits to its shareholders.
CO-OPS SHARE 7 PRINCIPLES
Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are formed by people looking for solutions to shared problems. They are open to all who use or provide their services and are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.
Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are controlled by those who use or provide the co-op's goods and services. Each member gets one vote to help make the organization's policies and decisions.
Member Economic Participation
Members equally "buy in" and democratically control the cooperative's capital based on the amount of business they conduct rather than the dollars they invest.
Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are independent, self-help organizations. If a co-op enters into an outside agreement or raises external capital, it still retains autonomy and democratic control.
Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives train their members, directors, and employees so they can best contribute to the co-op's development. They also educate the general public about cooperatives.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives work together through strong local, national, regional, and international structures to most effectively serve their members.
Concern for Community
Cooperatives focus on local development through policies and programs directed by their members.