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Cooperative Principles and Values

Cooperatives worldwide generally operate using the same principles as
adopted in 1995 by the International Cooperative Alliance (
The principles are part of a cooperative statement of identity which also
includes the definition of a cooperative and a list of cooperative values.
A cooperative 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.
Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility,
democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders,
cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness,
social responsibility and caring for others.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital
subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate
surpluses for any or all the following purposes: developing the
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.

4. 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
5. 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 public —
particularly young people and opinion leaders — about the nature
and benefits of cooperation.
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives — Cooperatives serve their
members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement
by working together through local, national, regional, and international
7. Concern for Community — While focusing on member needs,
cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their
communities through policies accepted by their members.

Shirley Robert, RCM
Cooperative Manager, Michigan Shores Cooperative

April 21, 2021
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