7 cooperative principles

The seven cooperative principles constitute enabling guidelines that allow cooperatives to put their values into practice.

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

2. Democratic Power Exercised by Members
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Men and women elected as representative of the members are responsible to them. In first-level cooperatives, members have the right to an equal vote by virtue of the concept, “One member, One vote”; cooperatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

3. Economic Participation by Members
Members contribute equally to the capital of their cooperatives and therefore have control over it. At least a portion of this capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually only benefit from a limited remuneration from the capital, a condition outlined as part of their membership. Members utilize financial surpluses for all or part of the following objectives: development of their cooperative; an eventual allocation to a reserve that cannot be, at least in part, divided up; members receive dividends in relation to their level of transactions with the cooperative; and support for other activities approved by the members.

4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, mutual organizations managed by their members. The conclusion of agreements with other organizations, including governments, must be done within the conditions that preserve the democratic authority of the members and maintain the independence of their cooperative.

5. Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide the required education and training to all their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. They inform the general public, in particular youth and opinion leaders, about the nature and advantages of cooperation.

6. Cooperation Amongst Cooperatives
To bring the best services to their members and strengthen the cooperative movement, cooperatives work together within local, national, regional and international structures.

7.Commitment to the Community
Cooperatives contribute to the sustainable development of their community as part of approved orientations adopted by their members.