The 7 Cooperative Principles That Guide Shared Member Value

Cooperatives are member-owned businesses that operate around the world and across all industries. Despite the difference in industry or geographic location there are 7, common principles that guide cooperatives. These principles differentiate the cooperative system from other business models by prioritizes member value and a shared stake in their collective success. What are these 7 principles? Keep reading to find out!

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership

Cooperatives allow for voluntary membership, meaning they are open for anyone to join who meets the membership criteria and accepts the responsibilities of being a member. Membership is non-discriminatory and open to all – whatever their gender, social, racial, political or religious background.

  1. Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratically governed by their members, with elected representatives making decisions for the group based on a ‘one member, one vote’ philosophy. This gives each member an equal say in policy and decision making.

  1. Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to the capital required to operate the cooperative. At least part of that capital remains as common property managed democratically. Members usually receive limited compensation on capital subscribed as a condition of membership.

  1. Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous organizations controlled by their members through democratically elected governance structures mentioned above. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, they do so based on terms that ensure their member-driven control.

  1. Education, Training and Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can effectively contribute to the cooperative’s development. Members also inform the public about the nature and benefits of cooperative organizations.

  1. Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively by working together with local, regional, national and international structures. This also strengthens the cooperative movement.

  1. Concern for Community

Cooperatives work towards sustainable development of their communities through policies supported by the membership.

These 7 guiding principles form the backbone of every cooperative, guiding them to coordinate efforts for shared member value and community well-being. It’s what makes our business model unique!

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