What are Co-operatives?
A co-operative (or co-op) is an independent group of people acting for the benefit of themselves and the wider community. Co-operatives may be staffed by volunteers or paid staff, often by both.
Co-op members may be workers, consumers or others, or a combination (multi-stakeholder co-op). These members own and run the co-op. Directors may be appointed, but they are accountable to the wider membership and don't own any greater part of the business than any other member. A co-op doesn't have any external shareholders.
Some co-ops compete directly with conventional business. In some cases, they do as well as or better than them - particularly during the financial turmoil of recent years.
All co-operatives sign up to the Principles of Co-operatives as defined by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).
The idea of a co-operative is not new. For an overview see the Wikipedia pages on Co-operatives and their History. See also Our Values page. Follow the many links on our Resources page to learn lots more.