A cooperative is a business that is owned and governed by the people it serves. The business exists for the benefit of those member/owners and the community in which they live.
All co-ops contain the following elements:
• Co-ops are owned and governed voluntarily by the people who use them;
• Co-ops are governed democratically;
• Co-ops are businesses;
• Co-ops adhere to internationally recognized principles.
There are many types of co-ops. Some of the most common are:
• Retailer Cooperative: Owners are typically businesses rather than individuals;
• Worker Cooperative: Owners work for the co-op;
• Consumer Cooperative: Owners are the customers of the co-op.
Some of the other types are harder to explain and less common than the ones listed above. To learn more about all types of cooperatives please visit The National Cooperative Business Association.