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Co-op values and principles

Illustration Proud to be a Co-op

From the outside a co-op may look like any other business – it’s what happens inside that makes them different. All co-ops are based on the same principles and they share a set of values.

There are seven co-operative principles that define how a co-op operates:

  1. A co-op is owned and controlled by its members. It exists for the benefit of its members, who may be customers, workers, suppliers or the wider community.
  2. A co-op is democratic – this means every member has an equal say in how it’s run and how profits are used.
  3. Every member contributes financially in some way – from buying products, working for the co-op, investing in it or deciding how to spend its profits.  
  4. A co-op is an independent business, owned and controlled by its members.
  5. It offers education and training to everyone involved, so they can develop the co-op and promote the benefits of co-operation.
  6. It co-operates, works with and supports other co-ops.
  7. A co-op supports the communities it works with.
Quote mark
We shared a commitment to be a co-op. We wanted to do this together - in the truest meaning of the word.
– Steven Flower, Open Data Services
Spread the word
Our colourful posters illustrate the co-operative values and principles

The co-operative values

There are 10 values that all co-ops are based on

  1. Caring for others
  2. Democracy
  3. Equity
  4. Equality
  5. Honesty
  6. Openness
  7. Self help
  8. Self responsibility
  9. Solidarity
  10. Social responsibility


Internationally agreed values and principles

Co-operatives are found all over the world, and sign-up to an internationally agreed definition.
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