|Agricultural and fishery co-operatives satisfy the need for supply, processing and
marketing of goods.|
|Consumer co-operatives provide the members with goods and services required of the
preferred quality at competitive prices.|
|Workers productive co-operatives are formed to create or maintain employment in a
|Housing co-operatives give low-income people the opportunity to own their own homes.|
|Co-operative insurance protects individuals and small businesses from risk.|
|Credit unions serve people of limited incomes not reached by commercial banks, and
extend credit to micro-entrepreneurs who otherwise might not be able to secure financing.|
|Health co-operatives provide their members with quality treatment and drugs at
|Tourism co-operatives facilitate the opportunity of holiday stay and travel and offer
fair prices and good quality services to their members.|
|Electric and telephone co-operatives meet rural peoples needs for power and
telecommunications not satisfied by private business.|
|Community development co-operatives are formed for the overall development of local
communities and are especially concerned with social, economic and cultural development.|
Co-operative members own their business. They provide share capital, elect a board of
directors, and receive the benefits of ownership through better services and patronage
refunds based on use.
Co-operatives bring people outside the mainstream into a nations economic and
Co-operatives teach people how to resolve problems democratically. Many individuals who
received their education in democracy from co-operatives have gone on to become political
leaders in their nations.
In emerging democracies, co-operatives help throw off the shackles of a non-market
economy. Their members develop the skills of entrepreneurship and learn market values.
As more and more governments divest state-owned enterprises, there is a danger that
these monopolies may be moved in tact into private hands. Co-operatives help avoid this
pitfall by ensuring wide participation by the users of the former state service.
Co-operatives spread economic power and encourage competition. They provide market
leverage to small producers victimised by powerful cartels or sole-source companies. They
undercut middlemen and moneylenders, whose charges are often exorbitant. By ploughing
profits back into the business, co-operatives can operate on narrower margins. Thus they
help drive down unfair prices, and set a competitive range of goods and services.
Co-operatives help people escape poverty and achieve dreams, such as owning a home or
giving their children an education. Since educated decision-making is essential to a
co-operatives success, co-operatives also tech new skills, from adult literacy to
business operations. Co-operatives empower individuals by giving them the chance to
participate in decisions, which have an impact on them. Armed with the ability to effect
change, members find solutions to social and economic needs. Co-operatives provide an
organised way for low-income people to relate to sometimes distant governments and
economic power structures.
Co-operatives draw community businesses into regional and national networks. Local
co-operatives benefit from larger business volume, operating efficiencies and professional
management. The economic pyramid enables farmers to purchase supplies at volume discounts,
and receive profits from value added processing and consumer sales. Credit unions pool
their resources, and are able to transfer surplus savings to credit unions in low-income
areas. Electric co-operatives join together to buy power at a lower cost. They become an
engine for development, spurring the growth of enterprises not possible without reliable
energy. Co-operative insurance companies are tied into a worldwide reinsurance network to
protect against catastrophic losses. They pool groups of individuals not served by
commercial companies to guard against personal and business risks.
Make co-operation and the co-operative
work for you and your community
This article was published in Co-op Horizons Magazine, Issue No 5, September
To find out more about the Co-operative and Social Economy movement go to the Caledonia
Links page where you will find links to all the apex organisations websites.