Boys to Men Entrepreneurs Leadership Academy

What Is A Co-op?

A co-op is an organization that takes the idea of working together and puts it into a business structure.  A cooperative is a businesss voluntarily owned and controlled by the people who use it - its members.  It is operated solely for the benefit of its members, to meet their mutual needs.  When groups of people have similar needs - such as the need for lower prices, more affordable housing, or access to telecommunications services - cooperatives offer great potential to meet those needs.

A co-op is a business!   It is subject to the same needs and demands of any business:  co-ops require sufficient financing, careful market analysis, strategic and comprehensive planning, well trained and competent personnel.  Co-ops are not immune to the market and economic forces that cause small business to struggle and fail.

But in several important ways, co-ops are also unique and different.  Most distinctly, a cooperative business is owned by the people who use its services-the members.  Co-ops may resemble other businesses outwardly, but the fact that they are owned by members makes them unique.

Although definitions of co-ops vary, they all contain the following elements.

-Co-ops are owned and controlled by those who use their services (the members).

-Co-ops are democratically governed.

-Co-ops are businesses, not clubs of associations.

-Co-ops adhere to internationally recognized principles.

A simple definition of a co-op.

A co-op is a member owned, member controlled business that operates for the mutual benefit of all members and according to common principles established for coopeatives.

There are three basic types of co-ops.

1.  Produce co-ops provide goods or services to members who are involved in producing products, such as farmers or artists.

2.  Workers co-ops are owned and controlled on a democratic basis by their employees.

3.  Consumer co-ops provide goods or services used primarily for personal consumption.   Food co-ops are typically orgqanized as consumer co-ops.