Being a business owner doesn't have to mean what most people think it means. Here's another way of doing things that's proving to be better than business as usual.

Instead of accepting the ridiculous idea that business has to be controlled by a few people who make all the decisions — and make most of the money — members of these communities built new cooperative businesses to meet local demand while serving the needs of their members. And the benefits are permeating throughout the community, making the local economy stronger and people's lives better.

Currently, there are 30,000 cooperatives in the U.S. Those businesses hold over $3 trillion in assets, generate over $650 billion in revenue, and employ nearly a million people. Worker cooperatives are the most equitable of all cooperative models, and they have the greatest potential for transforming the economy, particularly for low-income communities. But they're also some of the rarest in the country.

Thankfully, there are a lot of smart people working to develop — and even finance — cooperative businesses throughout the U.S. Here's a report that'll tell you all about it, including ways you can be a part of these exciting possibilities.

And just so you have a sense of the breadth of work that cooperatives are already doing, here are 16 examples of worker-owned cooperatives around the world.

MORE: 7 delightful posters that explain the 7 cooperative principles.

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