The Statement on Co-operative Identity was adopted at the 1995 General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), held in Manchester on the occasion of the Alliance’s Centenary. ICA has developed seven core principles which are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
Voluntary and open membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accepts the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
Democratic member control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote), and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
Member economic participation
Members contribute equitably to democratically control the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any of the following purposes: a) Developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible. b) Benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative. c) Supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Autonomy and independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain the co-operative identity.
Education, training and information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so that they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public- particularly young people and opinion leaders- about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
Cooperation among co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
Concern for community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members
For further information about starting a co-op please consult the following two documents: