Working Together - The Seven Cooperative Principles

Working Together - The Seven Cooperative Principles

AFREA wordle


The seven cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice:


First Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to    accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.


Second Principle: Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations 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 cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.


Third Principle: Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible: benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the

cooperative: and supporting other activities approved by the membership.


Fourth Principle: Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.


Fifth Principle: Education, Training, and Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders about the nature and benefits of cooperation.


Sixth Principle: Cooperation among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.


Seventh Principle: Concern for Community

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.


(Adopted at the International Cooperative Alliance Congress at Manchester, England on September 23, 1995)





This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. Consequently it wound up that Nobody told Anybody, so Everybody blamed Somebody.

Working together






Co-op Week in October 2010, celebrated the advantages of the cooperative business model in Canada and around the world. The celebration encouraged everyone to "experience the cooperative difference." Co-ops have made a difference to the lives of Canadians and their communities and range from banking and financial institutions to food markets and, of course, utility co-ops, including our own member REAs.

If your co-op participated in the celebrations please send us a review of the events and the response in your community. The AFREA will post member REA information on our web site to celebrate your achievements and share your news. Together, we can continue to succeed and contribute to the benefits of our community and its population.

The United Nations proclaimed 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives.

·     Ownership: Co-ops are democratic organizations owned by their members, who participate in their co-op on the basis of one member, one vote.

·     Values: Co-ops are  based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.

·     Purpose: Co-ops exist  to create value for their members; they're not about making big profits for shareholders.

·     Service: Most co-ops are locally controlled and operated and provide services not just to their members, but also to the communities they live in.

·     Principles: Co-ops abide by seven internationally-recognized principles: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; co-operation among co-operatives; and concern for community.

What is your co-op planning to do to celebrate?

How has your co-op made a difference in your community?

What are you doing to sustain a successful future?