What is a Co-operative?

Fact sheet introduction to all-things Co-op.



A co-operative, or co-op, is an organization that is owned by its members. Co-ops are formed when a group of individuals come together to meet a common need – co-ops can provide almost any type of product or service imaginable and can operate either on a not-for-profit or for-profit basis. A co-op operates on a democratic system that specifies “one member, one vote”. This ensures that all members of the co-op have an equal say in how the co-op is run, regardless of how much money they have invested in the co-op or how much they use the services offered.

Members do benefit financially from the co-op’s activities based on how much they use the service or products provided by the co-op – but this does not impact how much of a voice their vote carries within the co-op.

There are many different types of co-ops operating in many different sectors all over the world. Co-ops can and do offer services of every type in Ontario, including: food production and sale, tourism, health care, day care, funeral services, retail goods, housing, renewable energy, social services, natural resources and financial services.

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