The Seven Cooperative Principles
Co-ops are rooted in values similar to those many of us subscribe to personally, including self-responsibility, democracy, equality, honesty, and social responsibility. In addition to these values, co-ops around the world look to seven internationally recognized principles to guide them:
- Voluntary and Open Membership | Co-ops are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept responsibilities of ownership, without discrimination.
- Democratic Member Control | Co-ops are democratic organizations controlled by their owners, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Every owner account receives one vote in co-op elections.
- Members’ Economic Participation | Owners contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-op.
- Autonomy and Independence | Co-ops are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their owners.
- Education, Training and Information | Co-ops provide education and training for their owners, board members, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-op.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives | Co-ops serve their owners most effectively and strengthen the Cooperative Movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
- Concern for Community | Co-ops work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their owners.
As a result of these principles, co-ops keep money, jobs, and profits in the community and promote equity in relationships with farmers, producers, staff, and member-owners.