A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Cooperatives are businesses owned and run by and for their members. Whether the members are the customers, employees or residents, they have an equal say in what the business does and a share in the profits.
As businesses driven by values rather than just profit, cooperatives share internationally agreed principles and act together to build a better world through cooperation.
Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
Cooperatives also agree on a set of principles to put their values into practice. The cooperative principles are:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community
For more information on the cooperative values and principles, please refer to the International Co-operative Website.