A cooperative is a business or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Profits and earnings generated by the cooperative are distributed among the members, also known as user-owners.
Typically, an elected board of directors and officers run the cooperative while regular members have voting power to control the direction of the cooperative. Members can become part of the cooperative by purchasing shares, though the amount of shares they hold does not affect the weight of their vote.
Cooperatives are common in the healthcare, retail, agriculture, art and restaurant industries.
A cooperative exists to serve its members, but what makes co-ops unique is that the members are also the owners. So, in addition to getting the products and services you need, you also have a say in the business decisions your cooperative makes.
Rather than rewarding outside investors with its profits, a co-op returns surplus revenue to its members in proportion to how much they use the co-op. This democratic approach to business results in a powerful economic force that benefits the co-op, its members and the communities it serves.
Why Co-ops Matter
Cooperation is defined as working together towards the same end, and joining forces to accomplish a task that one can't achieve alone. Simply put, co-ops provide the framework that allows people to get what they want in a way that better meets their economic, social and cultural needs.
And because cooperation builds strong bonds between the people who use products and the people who supply them, co-ops offer a way to transform the way business is done. Co-ops give you the opportunity to get the products and services you need on a daily basis while strengthening the community around you.
In addition to a co-op's commitment to serving its members, most adhere to a set of seven principles that help guide the business. And as a result, many co-ops set a standard for the surrounding business community with a commitment to environmental and social responsibility.
Purple Life Cooperative