Upon further research I find that Cooperatives have been around since tribal times and really got a start in the 1700’s. They take many forms but have a few values and principles that set them apart.
“Cooperatives are based on the cooperative values of “self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, solidarity” and the seven cooperative principles:
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Member Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Cooperation among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
Cooperatives are dedicated to the values of openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Such legal entities have a range of social characteristics. Membership is open, meaning that anyone who satisfies certain non-discriminatory conditions may join. Economic benefits are distributed proportionally to each member’s level of participation in the cooperative, for instance by a dividend on sales or purchases, rather than according to capital invested. Cooperatives may be classified as worker, consumer, producer, purchasing or housing cooperatives. They are distinguished from other forms of incorporation in that profit-making or economic stability are balanced by the interests of the community.” http://www.ica.coop/coop/principles.html
“Co-operatives are enterprises that put people at the center of their business and not capital, and thus can be defined in terms of three basic interests: ownership, control, and beneficiary. In the co-operative enterprise are all three interests are vested directly in the hands of the user. In contrast, for-profit companies are designed to produce a profit for the owners (shareholders). Since the owners of a co-op are also the customers, lowered prices and extra services are acceptable instead of profits.” http://ask.metafilter.com/82330/why-a-coop-business-model
If you wish to learn more about these business models, I would start here. In the meantime, remember to focus on the heart of the issue, a better world for everyone! We all deserve to live life to the fullest and it is well within our grasps if we choose to.
Cooperative behavior is the immediate future for our society as we grow more trusting and more concerned about the welfare of all creatures on earth. Humanity is awakening! We have a vested interest to create sustainable systems and live a low impact lifestyle that supports every system on earth. A brilliant idea whose time has come!