A lot of people don't know what cooperatives are exactly, so here's the short of it: A cooperative is an organization or business that is jointly owned and democratically controlled by its members, all of whom share in the profits and benefits of the business. Sounds pretty great, right?
You might be thinking, "What's the difference between a cooperative and a corporation with shareholders?" Well, profit is the foremost driver of everything a standard corporation does, while cooperatives are people-centered — they put the social, economic, and even cultural needs of their members and communities at the center of their work.
What makes co-ops more sustainable and resilient than many conventional businesses is that members aren't just shareholders, they're stakeholders who actually have a say in company decisions and who have a deep interest in its long-term success. That's something the majority of people only wish they could say about their workplaces.
Below are the seven universally recognized principles that guide cooperatives around the globe. As I read through them, I couldn't help but wonder how much better the world would be if more businesses were like this.