A business cooperative is a legally recognized entity in which individuals or organizations pool their resources, share risks and rewards, and cooperate to achieve common goals. Business cooperatives are formed for a variety of reasons, including to provide members with access to markets, technology, capital, and expertise; to pool resources and share risks; to improve members' competitiveness; and to build social and community cohesion.

 

Cooperatives come in many different forms, including worker cooperatives, producer cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, marketing cooperatives, financial cooperatives, housing cooperatives, and agricultural cooperatives. Each type of cooperative has its own unique set of characteristics, but all share the common goal of promoting the economic and social well-being of their members.

 

Worker cooperatives are businesses owned and democratically controlled by their employees. Worker cooperatives typically offer employees greater autonomy and control over their work lives than traditional businesses, as well as a more equitable distribution of profits.

 

Producer cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the producers who supply their raw materials or products. Producer cooperatives often offer their members stable prices, reliable markets, and access to technology and capital. Consumer cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the consumers who use their products or services. Consumer cooperatives often offer their members discounts on goods and services, as well as a say in how the cooperative is run.

 

Marketing cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the farmers or producers who supply their products. Marketing cooperatives typically offer their members stable prices, reliable markets, and access to technology and capital. Financial cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the members who use their services.

 

Financial cooperatives often offer their members better rates and terms on loans and other financial services than traditional banks. Housing cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the members who live in their housing units. Housing cooperatives often offer their members below-market rates on rent, as well as a say in how the cooperative is run.

 

Agricultural cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the farmers or producers who supply their products. Agricultural cooperatives typically offer their members stable prices, reliable markets, and access to technology and capital.

 

The cooperative business model has a long history dating back to the 18th century, when the first cooperatives were formed in Europe. Today, there are an estimated one million cooperatives worldwide, with over three hundred thousand in the United States alone. The cooperative business model has proven to be an effective way to meet the needs of members while promoting economic and social justice.