Co-operatives are owned and democratically controlled by their members, who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods, not by outside investors. Co-op owners elect a board of directors from within their membership. Co-operatives return surplus revenues (income over expenses and investment) to owners that are proportionate to owners’ use of the cooperative, not proportionate to owners’ dollar amount of investment or number of shares. Co-operatives are motivated by wanting to meet their owners’ needs for affordable and high quality goods or services—instead of being motivated by profit. (LEARN MORE)
Co-ops are formed by their owners when the marketplace fails to provide needed goods or services at affordable prices and acceptable quality. Cooperatives empower people to improve their quality of life and enhance their economic opportunities through self-help.
Throughout the world, cooperatives are providing co-op members with financial services, utilities, consumer goods, affordable housing, and other services that would otherwise not be available to them.
It is not a charitable organization or a social service agency. A co-op is a business, usually incorporated, that sells goods and services.
A co-op exists primarily for the benefit of its members. Many co-ops also support other parts of the community through various programs and philanthropic activities as part of their commitment to cooperative values and principles.
In a cooperative, members democratically control the direction of the business. In most co-ops each member gets one vote.
Members elect a board of directors to monitor the business, set goals and hire management to operate their business. Ultimately, the board is accountable to the members for its decisions.