Cooperatives are member-owned businesses
are part of the self-help tradition of America. Cooperatives are
businesses organized by people to provide needed goods and services.
- Are owned
by the people who use their services;
an economic benefit for their members;
- Are democratic
organizations, controlled by their members;
- Are autonomous
the importance of education about cooperative business and organizational
cooperation among cooperatives, which has resulted in the growing
importance of cooperatives in today’s global economy; and,
concern for their communities.
provide just about any good or service their members need. Cooperatives
offer credit and financial services, health care, child care, housing,
insurance, legal and professional services. Cooperatives sell food,
farm supplies, hardware and recreational equipment. They provide
utilities, such as electricity, telephone and television. And cooperatives
process and market products and goods for their members.
are everywhere—helping people meet their common needs through
group effort. Look about your community—you’ll probably
find a cooperative or two. Some cooperatives do not have the word
“cooperative” in their names, so you may not always
know the enterprise is cooperatively organized. Yet there are cooperatives
for everything. You’ll find them everywhere people need to
get things done efficiently and economically.
principles are guides by which cooperatives put their values into
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
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. Members have equal voting rights
(one member, one vote).
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the
capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is
usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually
receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as
a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any
or all of the following purposes: developing their cooperative,
possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would
be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions
with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved
by the membership.
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.
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 cooperatives. They inform
the general public—particularly young people and opinion
leaders—about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen
the cooperative movement by working together though local, regional,
national and international structures.
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities
through policies approved by their members.