What is a Co-op?

Co-operatives are the businesses you go to when you want the ability to have a direct say in what goes on. As the member of a co-operative you are a co-owner which allows you a voice in a democratically-controlled business.

And one of the great attractions of co-operatives is that instead of being driven by short-term returns like so many stock market-listed companies, their member-based structure allows them to take a longer-term view of their business. It has helped the sector to not fall into traps like the subprime mortgage fiasco of 2008 which resulted a global financial crisis.

Co-operatives’ democratic structure often allows for more prudent business decisions to be made. Not being tied to the merry-go-round of short-term profits means co-operatives can invest in their businesses and their people. Co-operatives have strong links to the communities in which they operate and in which their members live. As such they promote self-reliance of communities and are of general benefit to society.

Very simply co-operatives can be described as falling into one of three general groups: workers co-operatives where members are given access to work opportunities, consumer co-operatives which allow members to buy goods and services at attractive prices and producer co-operatives which includes the agricultural sector which can fight against fluctuating prices for its commodities by banding together.

Co-operatives operate under a seven-principle set of guidelines. The seven principles of co-operative businesses are:  voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation; and concern for community.

What about co-ops around the globe?




Peter Russell-Clarke
Iconic TV chef and co-ops champion, Peter Russell-Clarke
"...because a lot of profit made from human effort is vanishing out of the local community where it is generated, we are becoming acutely aware that we need to join hands and protect each other by striving together to the benefit of our neighbours as well as our own family. We need to co-operate with each other - Bravo the co-operatives amongst you."

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