As the cooperative form of business developed over the past 150 years, a set of principles, which define features unique to the co-op and characteristics important to cooperative success, were revised in 1996 by the

International Cooperative Alliance.

1. Voluntary and open membership:

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, 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.

2. Democratic member control:

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and decision making.

3. Member economic participation:

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.

4. Autonomy and independence:

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members.

5. Education, training and information:

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative.

6. Cooperation among cooperatives:

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by cooperating with one another.

7. Concern for community:

While focusing on members’ needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.