What is a Co-op?

13043295-cooperation-and-teamwork-concept-in-word-tag-cloud-on-whiteblack Coopertive Businesses

Cooperation is what working together looks like all grown up


A cooperative exists to serve its members.  What makes a co-op unique is that the members are also the owners.  So,  in addition to getting the products and services you need, you also have a say in the business your cooperative makes.

Co-ops can be:

  • Housing cooperatives
  • Farm cooperatives
  • Credit unions
  • Food cooperatives
  • Power cooperatives
  • Insurance cooperatives ….

There Are Seven Cooperative Principles

  • Membership is open and voluntary (you do not have to be a member to shop at the store)
  • Cooperatives are democratically controlled by their members. One member, one vote.
  • Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative (everyone puts in the same amount of money and each person’s vote counts)
  • Cooperatives are autonomous  (self governing)
  • Cooperatives provide education and training to members and to the public
  • Cooperatives collaborate with cooperatives
  • Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities

Becoming a member of a cooperative business is an investment.  However, a cooperative investment differs in several key ways.

  • Members own the business they invest in
  • Members participate in the democratic control of the business. Every member has one vote and all votes count equally
  • Members receive a patronage dividend – a share of the co-op’s surplus revenue divided in proportion to how much they shop at the co-op
  • Reduced risk: your investment does not inflate or depreciate
  • You can pay for your membership over time
  • Refund: if you decide to leave the co-op, your money will be returned to you

Reasons to Become a Member

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