WHAT IS A CO-OPERATIVE?
It’s a different way of doing business. A co-operative is a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise that meets the common economic, social and cultural needs of its members. Members can be any group of people – customers, employees or residents – or organizations.
Co-operatives play a significant role in Canada, with one study stating the co-operative sector contributes over $50 billion to the economy and supports over 600,000 jobs.
- INFOGRAPHIC: The Economic Impact of Co-operatives in Canada
There are different co-operatives in different industries around the world. In spite of these differences, there exists a common co-operative identity that the International Co-operative Alliance has summarized in seven principles shared by co-operatives globally:
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Member Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Co-operation among Co-operatives
- Concern for Community
Federated Co-operatives Limited is a co-operative. It is owned by more than 190 independent retail co-operatives in Western Canada, which are in turn owned by more than 1.8 million individuals.
FCL shares its success with members by distributing a portion of profits as an allocation based on patronage, which is the value of products and services purchased by a member. A patronage allocation is equity, essentially an investment or shares in the company, which the co-operative may pay back in cash (share redemption).