A cooperative, often referred to as a co-op, is a business entity owned and operated by a group of individuals who come together to fulfill common needs or objectives. Co-ops can exist in various sectors, including agriculture, consumer goods, housing, finance, energy, and more. Here are the key aspects of cooperatives:


  • A cooperative is an autonomous association of individuals or organizations voluntarily coming together to meet their economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

Operating Principles:

  • Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are open to anyone willing to accept membership and contribute to the cooperative’s objectives.
  • Democratic Member Control: Members have equal voting rights and participate in the cooperative’s decision-making process on a one-member, one-vote basis.
  • Member Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. Surplus earnings are allocated for various purposes, such as reinvestment, member benefits, or community development.
  • Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous and self-governing organizations controlled by their members.
  • Education, Training, and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training to their members, employees, and the general public to promote understanding and participation in cooperative principles and practices.
  • Cooperation among Cooperatives: Cooperatives work together and support each other to strengthen the cooperative movement locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Concern for Community: Cooperatives strive to contribute to the sustainable development of their communities by addressing their needs and aspirations.


  • Cooperatives are governed democratically by their members, who elect a board of directors to oversee the cooperative’s operations and strategic decisions. The board is accountable to the members and is responsible for ensuring the cooperative operates in line with its mission and principles.

Attractiveness of the Cooperative Business Model:

  • Ownership and Control: Members have a direct stake in the cooperative and participate in decision-making, providing a sense of ownership and control over the business.
  • Focus on Member Needs: Cooperatives prioritize meeting the needs of their members rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders.
  • Shared Risks and Rewards: Members share the risks and benefits of the cooperative, fostering a sense of community and cooperation.
  • Local Economic Development: Cooperatives often contribute to local economic development by creating jobs, supporting local suppliers, and reinvesting profits within the community.
  • Social Impact: Cooperatives can address social and environmental issues by prioritizing sustainable practices, fair trade, community development, and inclusivity.
  • Resilience: The cooperative model tends to be more resilient in economic downturns, as members are motivated to support and sustain the cooperative during challenging times.

Overall, the cooperative business model offers a democratic and member-centric approach to business, promoting social responsibility, economic participation, and community development. It appeals to individuals and organizations seeking a more inclusive and sustainable way of doing business while meeting their shared needs and aspirations.