Cooperative Principles

The Cooperative Principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.

1. Voluntary and Open Ownership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of ownership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2. Democratic Owner Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their owners, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the ownership. Owners have equal voting rights – one owner, one vote.
3. Owner Economic Participation
Owners contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. The economic benefits of a cooperative operation are return to the owners, reinvested in the co-op, or used to provide owner services. You control the capital.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their owners. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their owners and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
5. Education, Training, and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their owners, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their owners most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
7. Concern for Community
While focusing on owner needs, cooperatives work to improve the quality of life in the areas they serve.