resources (about cooperatives)

How did Co-ops start?

Why Cooperatives?

Cooperative Principles



A cooperative is a business controlled by the people who use it. It is a democratic organization whose earnings and assets belong to its members. By patronizing and becoming an active member of a co-op, you invest yourself with the power to shape that business. You control the politics and economics of what is truly your organization.

This localized member control allows co-ops to be as varied as the people they serve. Thus, there are different types of co-ops including: food co-ops, housing co-ops, arts and crafts co-ops, book co-ops, bakery co-ops, bike co-ops, farm co-ops, rural electric co-ops, financial co-ops (credit unions), and insurance co-ops. And each of these has a flavor of its own, reflective of the desires of its individual memberships. Despite the diversity in type and tradition of co-ops, most have several things in common, particularly the ideals and principles from which they emerge.