What is a co-operative?

Apr 15th, 2011 | By | Category: Administration, News

A co-operative is a group of people acting together to meet the common needs and aspirations of its members, sharing ownership and making decisions democratically.

Co-operatives are not about making big profits for shareholders, but creating value for customers – this is what gives co-operatives a unique character.

Co-operatives are not just supermarkets and funeral services – although these are amongst the most successful co-operatives found on the high street.

There are over 4,800 independent co-operatives in the UK owned by more than 11 million people and the numbers keep on growing. They work in all parts of the economy, from healthcare to housing, farms to football clubs, credit unions to community owned shops, pubs to public relations, wind farms to web design.

All co-operative businesses have the following in common. They:

  • are owned by members – and not by institutional shareholders
  • exist to serve their members, whether they are the customers, the employees or the local community
  • ensure all members have an equal say in what the co-operative does. So, as well as getting the products and services they need, members help shape the decisions their co-operative makes.
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