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Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, 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.
Co-operatives are democratic organisations 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) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, 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.
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.
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
More History on Co-op Principles
Co-op Principles have been in use since 1844 when the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers defined them for use as overarching guidelines in the operations and structure of their co-operative. The original Rochdale principles were officially adopted by the ICA in 1937, updated in 1966, and then integrated, as the set of 7 Principles, within the Statement on the Co-operative Identity in 1995.