What is a co-op?
A cooperative is a business that is owned by the people who use it- members who have organized to provide themselves with the products and services they need. The members elect a board of trustees who govern the cooperative and represent the needs of its members. All net margins are returned to the members in the form of capital credits.
Cooperatives are guided by the set of seven principles below.
1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Memberhsip
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.
2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.
3rd Principle: Members' Economic Participation
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership.
4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
5th Principle: Education, Training, and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative.
6th Principle: Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7th Principle: Conern for the Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for community development through policies accepted by their members.