Co-operative Principles

The International Co-operative Association Statement On The Co-operative Identity And Principles

Definition

A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

Values

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

Principles

The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.

  • Voluntary and Open Membership – Membership in a housing co-op is open to all who can use the co-op’s services and accept the responsibilities of being a member, without discrimination.

  • Democratic Member Control - Housing co-ops are controlled by their members. Each member has one vote. Housing co-ops give members the information they need to make good decisions and take part in the life of the co-op.

  • Members’ Economic Participation - Members contribute financially to the co-op and share in the benefits of membership. The co-op does not pay a return on the members’ shares or deposits. Instead it sets aside reserves for the future and charges the members only what it needs to operate soundly.

  • Autonomy and Independence - Housing co-ops are independent associations. They follow the laws that apply to them and their agreements with governments or other organizations. But the members control the co-op.

  • Education, Training and Information - Housing co-ops offer education and training to the members, directors and staff so that everyone can play a full role in the life of the co-op. Housing co-ops find ways to tell the public what they are and what they do.

  • Co-operation Among Co-operatives - By organizing together in federations, housing co-ops grow stronger and help to build a healthy co-op movement. Where they can, housing co-ops use the services of co-op businesses to meet their needs.

  • Concern for Community - Housing co-ops work to build strong communities inside and outside the co-op. They help to improve the quality of life for others and they take care to protect the environment.