A co-op is a group of people who pool their resources to get what they need. Most of us are familiar with natural foods, electric or farm cooperatives. A co-op can be any kind of business or service.
What makes a co-op unique is that it is owned by a community. Each owner contributes an amount of equity, and gets one vote for the board of directors and equal say. Cooperatives are community owned, and governed businesses that operate for the benefit of their owners according to common principles agreed upon by the international cooperative community. In co-ops, owners pool resources to bring about economic results that are unobtainable by one person along.
Most simply put, a cooperative is a business:
1) voluntarily owned by the people who use it, and
2) operated for the benefit of its owners. Regardless of the goods and services provided, co-ops aim to meet their owners’ needs by following the 7 Cooperative Principles.
The 7 principles give us guidance in the way to do business, while the management structure gives us a basis for functioning as a business. To give you an idea of how the co-op is set up and what your part is in our co-op, take a look at the management structure.
Owners Meet Annually To…
…elect a board of Directors who create a vision and set policies and hire….
…the General Manager who is responsible for the day-to-day operations and hiring of….
…Department Managers and all other staff whose primary goal is to serve the member-owners.
7 CO-OP PRINCIPLES
In addition to our common values, most co-ops share seven basic principles. These principles help co-ops maintain the spirit of cooperation, and they demonstrate how people-oriented cooperatives are at heart.
VOLUNTARY AND OPEN MEMBERSHIP
DEMOCRATIC MEMBER CONTROL
MEMBER ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION
AUTONOMY AND INDEPENDENCE
EDUCATION, TRAINING AND INFORMATION
COOPERATION AMONG COOPERATIVES
CONCERN FOR COMMUNITY