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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.

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:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Co-operation among Co-operatives
  7. Concern for Community

Federated Co-operatives Limited is a co-operative. It is owned by over 200 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).