Definition of a Cooperative
A cooperative (or co-op) is a business operated and democratically controlled by its membership of Owners to meet their common needs and aspirations. Co-ops are guided by the seven principles.
1. Voluntary, Open Ownership
Open to all without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination. You may shop, you may join, and you may leave the co-op at any time.
2. Democratic Owner Control
One Member-Owner, one vote. Your voice will be heard.
3. Owner Economic Participation
Member-Owners contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. The economic benefits of a cooperative operation are returned to the Member-Owners, reinvested in the co-op,
or used to provide Member-Owner services.
4. Autonomy And Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their Member-Owners.
5. Education, Training And Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for Member-Owners so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperation. You can develop yourself into the consumer you want to be.
6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their Member-Owner most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, regional, national structures. You are more successful when you cooperate with others who know how to cooperate.
7. Concern For The Community
While focusing on Member-Owner needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their Member-Owners.