What is a Co-op?

A co-op is a business voluntarily owned by the people who use it and operated for the benefit of its members. Members pool resources to bring about economic results that are unobtainable by one person alone. These member-owned, member-governed businesses operate according to common principles agreed upon by the international cooperative community.

The following Statement of Cooperative Identity was adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995:


A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.


Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.


1. Voluntary & Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Economic Participation
4. Autonomy & Independence
5. Education, Training & Information
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
7. Concern for the Community