- A cooperative (or co-op) is a business operated and democratically controlled by its membership of Owners to meet their common needs and aspirations. Co-ops are guided by the seven principles.
- Cooperatives operate according to seven basic principles. Six were drafted by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) in 1966, based on guidelines written by the founders of the modern cooperative movement in England in 1844. In 1995, the ICA restated, expanded and adopted the 1966 principles to guide cooperative organizations into the 21st Century.
Source: Willy Street Co-op
Why a Co-op in Amherst?
- There is no grocery store that is convenient for everyone in Amherst.
- There is no grocery store that is owned by and truly represents the whole community.
The Seven Co-operative Principles
- Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-operatives 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.
- Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
- Members’ Economic Participation
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control the capital of, the co-operative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the co-operative, rather than on the capital invested.
- Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.
- Education, Training, and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees, so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of co-operatives.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
- Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs approved by the members.