A co-operative is…
…an autonomous association of people or organisations united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
This short video tells you more and this what_is_a_co-op_leaflet is a good introduction. More useful links and information can be found below, on our Resources page and on the Co-operatives UK website
Co-operatives range in size from the smallest food buying circle to multi-million pound agricultural businesses. As well as the familiar consumer co-ops like the Co-operative shops and the Co-operative Bank, there are plenty of others: worker co-ops, housing co-ops, credit unions, community enterprises, energy co-ops and marketing co-ops, for example. What all these diverse enterprises have in common is a shared set of values and principles.
Values – Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. Co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
Co-operative principles – These are the guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice. The seven principles are
Voluntary & Open Membership
Democratic Member Control
Members’ Economic Participation
Autonomy & Independence
Education, Training and Information
Cooperation among Cooperatives
Concern for Community