Part One: What does it mean to be a Co-operative?

As with any sector, the language used by those already working within it can often be a mystery to those outside. With that in mind, here is the first of two blogs which aim to explain exactly what a Co-operative is, and the benefits of choosing that structure. In part two, we’ll be discovering more about Community Businesses.

A co-operative is essentially a business owned and run by its members. They have an equal share in how the business is run and how the profits are shared.

There are nearly 7,000 co-operatives in the UK, owned by around 15 million people, and contributing £36 billion a year to the economy.

Co-operatives offer a viable alternative to ‘big’ businesses. In Britain today, 58% of people think that big businesses are out of control and 57% feel that they have no influence over the economy.

Co-operatives give people the opportunity to have a say in how a business is run. Unlike businesses focussed solely on making a profit for their investors, co-ops exist to meet the needs of their members. The benefits of ownership are based on time and use, not just the amount of money that someone has invested. Co-operatives often work on a one-member one-vote system, meaning that everyone has an equal say, regardless of the amount of money they may have.

Co-operatives UK have made a great video to summarise what is means to be a Co-operative:

If you’re interested in learning more, here are some useful links: