Explore Cooperatives

The cooperative business model is utilized all over the world and is unlimited in its application.

What is a Cooperative?

A cooperative is a values-based business, owned by and operated for the benefit of the people at the heart of the organization, not outside investors. Cooperatives are structured around seven principles deeply rooted in democracy, economic participation, and sustainable growth of both the businesses and communities they serve.

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cooperatives in the United States that are successful in many industries. They look like any other business but are actually very different.
members and counting. Ownership matters; and co-op members own their businesses. This makes a positive difference in daily operations, profitable growth, and the culture of the business.
Farmer-Owned — Producer Cooperatives

A business owned by the farmers who produce the product.
Producer Cooperatives operate in all areas of agriculture and production. This includes dairy production, raising meat and poultry, growing grains and produce, fishing, there are even forestry operations and biofuel cooperatives.

Employee-Owned — Worker Cooperatives

Worker co-ops can operate in any industry and on many different scales. They are incredibly diverse and possibilities for the business model are endless. Because the employees own the business in a worker cooperative, it is the employees who govern the business and benefit from its growth.

Customer-Owned — Consumer Cooperatives

In consumer cooperatives, it is the customers who own and govern the business. People choose to form and participate in consumer co-ops to scale their buying power, secure and control their access to goods and services, and amplify their voices in the industry in which their co-op operates. 

Local Business-Owned — Purchasing Cooperatives

Purchasing co-ops scale buying power and increase savings through shared services keeping locally owned and operated businesses competitive without sacrificing their independence. This model is utilized by independent retail businesses, government bodies, and college/university networks.

Co-op Sectors

Cooperatives operate in many sectors of the economy. Find your sector or explore other sectors to find how cooperatives thrive in so many ways.

Training Materials

Are you a leader of a cooperative?
We’ve got tools and materials to help you educate and inspire your members and employees.


Many associations represent cooperative businesses providing an array of resources to ensure success. View associations in your sector or country.

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