There are Seven Cooperative Principles that give all co-ops Guidance
By Adam Schwartz
Cooperatives around the world operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.
Cooperatives are formed based on the cooperative business model that has at the foundation these seven cooperative principles:
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Members’ Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Cooperation among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
Stephen Covey the late author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People once said, “We should begin with the end in mind.” This is another way of answering the question: What are we trying to accomplish? With that advice in mind we begin with focusing on Principle 7- Concern for Community.
This is the reason why nearly every co-op was founded. We or our parents, grandparents or great grandparents’ generation came together using the cooperative business model as their guide. It was this concern for our community, to bring the good or the service to our community.
The ICA provides the following explanation for this Principle 7: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.
For cooperatives, these are easy decisions to make because unlike investor-owned businesses where the owners and employees can be far removed from the users of the service, in a cooperative the owners and users are the same people: You!
This is why we call you a member or member-owner and encourage you to actively engage with us. The health and long-term sustainability of our community depends on all of us demonstrating our mutual concern for our community.
Our concern for our community has never wavered. Co-ops will continue to work for the sustainable development of our community. Co-op members need to offer their input and participation as we work to meet your needs for the next generation and beyond…
Adam Schwartz is the founder of The Cooperative Way a consulting firm that helps co-ops succeed. He is an author, speaker and member-owner of the CDS Consulting Co-op. You can follow him on Twitter @adamcooperative.