The 7 Co-operative Principles

Open and Voluntary Membership

Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.


Democratic Governance

Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights - one member, one vote.


Member Economic Participation

A co-op is based on the idea of social enterprise, meaning the purpose is to re-invest any profits into the co-op itself, or other activities approved by the membership.


Autonomy and Independence

Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.


Education, Training and Information

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.


Cooperation Between Cooperatives

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.


Concern for Community

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.



Source: International Co-operative Alliance