Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.



Cooperatives are based on the simple yet powerful idea that people can achieve greater results by working together than they can alone. The cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.


1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.


3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.


4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative's autonomy.

5th Principle: Education, Training and Information

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

6th Principle: Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.


7th Principle: Concern for Community

While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.


The past few years have been a watershed opportunity for food co-ops and for the wider cooperative movement. When the United Nations declared 2012 the International Year of Co-ops, it brought public attention to the cooperative business model. In the wake of continuing global recession, cooperative enterprise was showing itself to be a resilient business model that strengthened local economies, sustained jobs, and contributed to economic democracy. The central purpose of the year was to shine a light on co-ops as effective tools for poverty reduction, social engagement, and food security, particularly in the context of the UN’s Millenium Development Goals.


In early 2013, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) launched a Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade. This ambitious vision acknowledges co-operatives as leaders in economic, social, and environmental sustainability, the preferred business model of people around the world, and consequently the fastest growing form of enterprise by 2020. (From NFCA  >Read more)


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