What is a co-operative?
Co-operatives are businesses that are owned and democratically controlled by their members. The members may be customers, employees, residents, businesses, people who are part of the local community or a combination of these, depending on the legal model chosen. Almost any kind of enterprise can be run as a co-operative, with the financial risks and rewards being spread fairly among their members.
The internationally agreed definition of a co-operative is: ”A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.”
Co-operatives also balance the need to make a profit with the necessity of strengthening communities and protecting the environment.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. The principles, or guidelines, by which co-operatives put their values into practice, are defined as:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training and information
- Co-operation among co-operatives
- Concern for community
For more information, visit: www.ica.coop
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How long will my application take?
Typically, you can expect to hear from one of our co-operative development advisers within 2 weeks of submitting your online application. In certain circumstances, the process could take longer, or it could be completed much sooner. For a more detailed outline of the stages involved in an application, visit the process page.
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