Principles governing co-ops

There are seven principles governing co-ops as spelt out by the International Cooperative Alliance.

  • Voluntary and open membership

Co-ops are voluntary organisations, open to all persons who are able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

Notwithstanding the above, the eligibility of an individual's admission into a co-op's membership is subject to the criteria as set out in the co-op's own by-laws of the jurisdiction.

  • Democratic member control

Co-ops are democratic organisations controlled by members, who actively participate in setting their own policies and decision making. This means members vote on policies passed and vote for elected representatives.

  • Members’ economic participation

All members contribute equitably to their co-op’s capital. Generally, part of the co-op’s capital is common member property. Usually members get limited compensation for the subscribed capital given as condition of their membership.

Surplus capital may be allocated for any, or all, of the following:

  • To develop the co-op
  • To set up or build reserves
  • To benefit members in their transactions with the co-op
  • Supporting other activities approved by the members
  • Autonomy and independence

Members of Co-ops are responsible for their own governance, subject to the legislation and any orders by the Registry. If they make agreements with other organisations, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and their co-op autonomy.

  • Education, training and information

Co-ops provide education and training to their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so that they can contribute to the development of their co-ops.

  • Co-operation amongst co-operatives

Co-ops serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-op movement by working through local, national, regional and international structures.

  • Concern for community

While focusing on members’ needs, co-ops work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by the members.

Last updated on 17 September 2020