Cooperative Enterprises Build A Better World
A cooperative is a business or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Profits and earnings generated by the cooperative are distributed among the members, also known as member-owners. Cooperatives come in all shapes and sizes, from large retail stores like REI® and purchasing co-op like BLUE HAWK, to trusted brands like Cabot Cheese and Nationwide Insurance. Whether it’s an account at the local credit union, electricity for your home, or phone service, there are more then 40,000 co-op outlets across the country, meaning you can shop cooperatively wherever you are, and for whatever you need. Co-ops can be found in every congressional district. Wherever they are they help the local community – employing local people, using local suppliers, and reinvesting time and money back into their communities. Cooperatives are better because their business model creates greater economic, social and environmental sustainability. Cooperatives put people at the heart of economic decision-making and bring a greater sense of fair play to the global economy. In fact, for every $1 spent in a cooperative, an additional 40 cents is generated for the local economy.
Seven Cooperative Principles
1. VOLUNTARY & OPEN MEMBERSHIP
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to persons willing to accept responsibilities of membership. This relationship can be voluntarily ended at any time.
2. DEMOCRATIC MEMBER CONTROL
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).
3. MEMBERS' ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION
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.
4. AUTONOMY & 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 effectively to the development of their cooperatives.
6. COOPERATION AMONG COOPERATIVES
Co-ops believe working together is the best strategy to empower their members and build a stronger co-op economy.
7. CONCERN FOR COMMUNITY
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their membership.