According to the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), an international organization that has promoted the co-operative movement around the world since 1895, a cooperative is an “autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” One can consider cooperatives as an alternative to the conventional capitalist business model in the sense that it is a self-governed model and that it seeks to encourage a shared economy. In fact, in the cooperative enterprise, the lending of services is prioritized over the pursuit of financial benefit. In any case, different types of cooperatives exist: labor, production, savings and credit, consumption, agricultural, services, housing, etc.
The co-operative movement is both a socio-economic doctrine that defends the right to collectively organize for a community’s needs as well as a social movement and an alternative form of politics that began to spread in the 19th century. Amongst the first great thinkers of the co-operative movement are Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Herman Schuize-Delitzsch, and Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen. The fundamental principles of the co-operative movement are voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, autonomy and independence, education, training and information, cooperation among cooperatives, and caring for community. Amongst its values, we can mention self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. Cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others
NOTES AND USEFUL LINKS
- “Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others” (“Cooperative identity, values & principles”).
- Different types of cooperatives (some of many examples):
- “Consumer: owned by consumers who buy goods or services from their cooperative
- Producer: owned by producers of commodities or crafts who have joined forces to process and market their products
- Worker: owned and democratically governed by employees who become co-op members
- Purchasing: owned by independent businesses or municipalities to improve their purchasing power
- Hybrid: a combination of co-op types, where people with common interests band together” (“Five Types of Cooperatives”).
“Cooperative identity, values & principles.” International Co-operative Alliance, https://www.ica.coop/en/cooperatives/cooperative-identity.
“Five Types of Cooperatives.” IWDC, https://www.iwdc.coop/why-a-coop/five-types-of-cooperatives-1.
El Gran Río. Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid, 2018, http://www.circulobellasartes.com/granrio/.
“The Guidance Notes on the Co-operative Principles.” International Co-operative Alliance, 3 enero, 2017, https://www.ica.coop/en/media/library/research-and-reviews/guidance-notes-co-operative-principles?_ga=2.123403011.961334052.1557149703-314787708.1557149703