What is a Co-operative?

A co-operative is an organization formed by people coming together to meet their common needs. Locally owned and democratically controlled by the members who use its services, co-operatives are founded on a common idea – that people know what’s best for them and can work together to achieve their goals. Based on co-operative principles, they empower individuals, and encourage healthier and stronger communities, by enabling them to pool their resources and share risks.

Co-operatives and credit unions are active in every sector of the economy, including finance, insurance, agri-food and supply, wholesale and retail, housing, health, and the service sector. They can provide virtually every product or service, and can be either non-profit or for-profit enterprises.

Unlike the private, public or voluntary sectors, all co-operative organizations around the world are guided by the same seven principles:

  1. Voluntary and open membership
  2. Democratic member control
  3. Member economic participation
  4. Autonomy and independence
  5. Education and training
  6. Co-operative among co-operatives
  7. Concern for community

Collectively, there are over 10,000 co-operatives and credit unions in Canada, providing products and services to over 10 million Canadians.