A cooperative (co-op) is a formal legal and/or federally or provincially incorporated organization that adheres to specific principles of cooperation and is formed to meet a common need. They are community focused and they balance people, the planet and profit. Members of the organization are user-owners; meaning that they not only buy or use its products/services, but they also own its assets. They oversee its day-to-day operations, its finances, and its mission.
The cooperative model offers many advantages that other private organizations cannot. They allow for greater economic democracy and self-determination by allowing members to save money while providing quality products/services at a lower cost.
Co-ops are organizations that are created to provide for the needs of their members, and that operate democratically with a focus on education and concern for the overall social welfare. Through co-ops, members are able to do things they could not do on their own. They enable people to raise their voices and push society towards collective liberation from the bottom up (as opposed to the top-down nature of private corporations). The cooperative model is fundamental to a healthy and democratically organized institution because it fosters discussion(s) about social identity, equity, and equality.
Watch these short video for more information about cooperatives and its benefits: