Cooperative Development
Foundation

1775 Eye Street NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20006

Email: info@cdf.coop

Phone: 202-442-2302

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WHAT IS A CO-OP?

CO-OPS: A USER OWNED, DEMOCRATICALLY OWNED BUSINESS

People form cooperatives -- user-owned, democratically-controlled businesses -- for many reasons. Co-ops can:

  • address market failures where neither the private sector nor the government provide a needed service, 

  • help small players gain parity with large investor-owned competitors, or 

  • give consumers a deliberate choice of enterprise to better meet their common needs and aspirations.  

Regardless of the reason, the very structure of a cooperative requires that it be responsive to its member-owners, and in turn to the local community. The nature of cooperatives is inherently both locally-based and participatory, embodying a direct connection between member needs and the services provided.

THE 7 COOPERATIVE PRINCIPLES

 

Cooperatives around the world operate according to the same core principles and values. Co-ops  trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.

COOPERATIVE SECTORS 

 

Cooperative businesses operate across virtually all industries or sectors and range in size from small, local stores, to $30 billion multi-national organizations:

  • Agriculture

  • Education

  • Financial Services

  • Consumer

  • Healthcare

  • Housing

  • Industry Services

  • Insurance

  • Purchasing

  • Utility services

  • Worker