What is a Cooperative?
Cooperatives are a concept of democratic economic control. The modern cooperative movement rose in parallel to modern capitalism in the 18th century. Today, cooperatives can be found around the world, with a total of more than a billion members.
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California Center for Cooperative Development
National Cooperative Business Association
International Cooperative Allliance
The cooperative principles, also known as the Rochdale Principles are:
1. Voluntary and Open Membership: anyone can join, and discrimination is not tolerated within the organization.
2. Democratic Member Control: decisions are either made collectively, with each member having one vote, or by leaders elected by members.
3. Member Economic Participation: funding is provided by members, and profits are either returned to members or used to expand the cooperative.
4. Autonomy and Independence: when external funding is needed, it is obtained in a way that members retain control of the organization.
5. Education, Training and Information: co-ops teach members and the public how to do what they are doing, and also how to run a business or organization.
6. Co-operation among Co-operatives: cooperatives work together at the local, national, and global level.
7. Concern for Community: co-ops promote sustainable economies, societies, and ecosystems.