A cooperative is an organization that is owned and controlled by the people who use its products, supplies and/or services. Cooperatives can vary in their particular purpose but share in common the fact that they are formed to meet the specific objectives of members and adapt to member’s changing needs. Self reliance and self-help are the hallmark of cooperatives.
Agricultural cooperatives are organized to help farmers gain market power by: collective marketing of crops, increased bargaining power by achieving economies of scale, processing commodities to add value, and to purchase supplies and services.
Cooperatives offer distinctive benefits to artists of all types. By working together, they can gain marketing advantages, reap quantity discounts on supplies through joint purchasing, share studio space and equipment, and maintain control over the distribution of their work
A variety of other types of co-ops serve the needs to their members--including business, insurance, retail, and student cooperatives. Members are the users of these services and elect elect the board of directors.
Childcare and preschool cooperatives can be organized in a variety of ways. Workers can form a cooperative to offer childcare or preschool services (see worker cooperative).
A credit union is a member-owned, nonprofit, financial cooperative organized to provide financial services to benefit consumers. Credit unions usually encourage savings and offer competitive rates for loans.
The member-owners of food cooperatives are typically consumers, however some are worker-owned or share decision making among both workers and consumers.
Housing cooperatives are democratically controlled corporations established to provide housing for members. Each household owns a share in the corporation, which entitles the member to occupy a unit of housing.
A variety of other types of co-ops serve the needs of their members; in each type the members elect a board of directors to make decisions. While the members of a business or "shared services" cooperative are small businesses or entitiies that join together to gain market power or reduce operating costs, consumers comprise the membership of insurance, retail, and student cooperatives.
A worker cooperative is a democratically managed business that is owned and controlled by the workers. The cooperative form of organization allows ordinary people to combine their energy, capital, and skills to gain steady employment and income, participate in the ownership and management of their business, and share the profits made from their investment and labor.