Co-operative

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Seven Co-operative principles

The following principles were adopted by the 1995 Centenary Congress of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). They reflect how the co-operative values are put into practice.

1. Open membership

Everyone participating in a co-operative business has the right to membership. No-one should be refused membership on the grounds of race, sex, disability, politics or religion. However most employee owned businesses do have a probationary period for new employees before membership is offered.

2. Democratic control

All co-operatives are organised on the principle of one member, one vote. Everyone has an equal say, regardless of seniority or their amount of investment in the business.

3. Common ownership

The assets of a co-operative business are held in trust for the benefit of present and future members of the business. Members decide how the profits are distributed: they can be shared between the members, reinvested in the business, or donated to social causes. Many co-operatives put a high priority on reinvesting in the business.

4. Autonomy and Independence

Co-operatives are autonomous organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information

Co-operatives provide training for their members, elected representatives and employees to contribute effectively to the development of the co-operative. They also aim to promote the nature and benefits of co-operation.

6. Co-operation among Co-operatives

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international networks.

7. Social aims alongside economic aims

Employee owned businesses consider the wider needs of the community in which they work and live. They can do this by providing a conscientious service to customers or supporting charitable community causes.

Co-operative Principles Ethics and Values

Co-operatives are international and take many different forms – secondary co-operatives, housing co-operatives, retail co-operatives etc. Although they may organise in different ways, they all hold in common the same principles, values and ethics which provide guidance as to how they should function.

Co-operatives are organised with reference to the following values:

Self-help
Self-responsibility
Democracy
Equality
Equity (fairness)
Solidarity

These values reflect the ethic values of:

Honesty
Openness
Social responsibility
Caring for others
The following principles were adopted by the 1995 Centenary Congress of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). They reflect how the co-operative values are put into practice.

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

Co-operatives are voluntary organisations open to all persons who qualify for membership and are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control

Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to their members. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.

3. Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and control democratically, the capital of their co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion with their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities as approved by membership.

4. Autonomy and Independence

Co-operatives are autonomous, self help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their
co-operative autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, and employees so that they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

6. Co-operation among Co-operators

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

7. Concern for the Community

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

More information about the International Co-operative Alliance and co-operatives in general is available from the website www.coop.org

For more information about co-operatives and co-operative development services available contact Avon CDA http://www.cda.coop/contact.htm

Information sheet developed by Co-operative Assistance Network http://www.can.coop/