Definition: A co-operative 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.
Co-operatives are business organizations owned by the members who use their services. Control rests equally with all members (“one member, one vote”) and surplus earnings are shared by members in proportion to the degree they use the services. Co-ops are structured in a democratic way that allows members to have a say in their actions. The members elect the board of directors and decide what should be done with any surplus that is generated in the co-op. The members of the co-op are people, or groups of people, who use and need the services and products a co-operative provides. If the co-op is created to provide work, the workers are the member-owners. If the co-op is created to purchase goods and services, the consumers (buyers) are the members. Co-ops can be either for-profit or not-for-profit enterprises. In Canada, most co-ops in the healthcare, childcare and housing sectors are not-for-profit co-ops. While some co-ops (such as family housing co-ops) receive some government funding, co-operatives are NOT government organizations. Co-ops are community initiated organizations and businesses.
Do you know a group of people with a common interest? Would they benefit from working together?
The Co-op model is the solution for many people trying to build a better life.