There are seven general principles that all co-operatives follow.
- Voluntary & Open Ownership: Open to all without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination
- Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
- Members’ Economic Participation: Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.
- Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. Any agreements with other organizations or external sources of capital ensure democratic control by the members and maintain the cooperative’s autonomy.
- Education, Training and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative, and inform the public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
- Cooperation among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
- Concern for Community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.
Source: The International Cooperative Alliance