A Different Way of Doing Business

A cooperative, or co-op, is a member-owned & member-governed business. In cooperatives, people come together to scale buying power, access goods and services, and create economic opportunity not available to them individually.

Cooperatives are about sustaining family businesses, fair trade, equitable community growth, and natural resources.

Farmer-Owned

Producer Cooperatives: A business owned by the farmers who produce the product.

Farmer-Owned

Producer Cooperatives: A business owned by the farmers who produce the product.

Producer Cooperatives operate in all areas of agriculture and production. This includes dairy production, raising meat and poultry, growing grains and produce, fishing, there are even forestry operations and biofuel cooperatives.
Why independent farmers, growers, fishers, producers cooperate: Most commonly producers come together to scale their market and advertising reach, or increase the buying power of goods, services, equipment, and insurance to run their businesses. They may also share hiring services, distribution networks, and operation of processing and storage facilities as a group.

Organic Valley and Cabot Creamery Co-operative are two examples of farmer-owned cooperatives!

Employee-Owned

Worker Cooperatives: A business owned by the people who work there.

Employee-Owned

Worker Cooperatives: A business owned by the people who work there.

Worker co-ops can operate in any industry and on many different scales. From restaurants owned by the cooks and wait-staff, craft stores and art galleries owned by the artists, healthcare, childcare and schools owned by the men and women delivering the services to production centers and manufacturing plants owned by the line workers up to management employees; worker co-ops are incredibly diverse and possibilities for the business model are endless. Because the employees own the business in a worker cooperative, it is the employees who govern the business and benefit from its growth.

Customer-Owned

Consumer Cooperatives: A business owned by the people who buy its products or use its services.

Customer-Owned

Consumer Cooperatives: A business owned by the people who buy its products or use its services.

In consumer cooperatives, it is the customers who own and govern the business. People choose to form and participate in consumer co-ops to scale their buying power, secure and control their access to goods and services, and amplify their voices in the industry in which their co-op operates. This business model is very universal; it has been most successful in retail, grocery store food co-ops, financial services through Credit Unions, rural electricity and utilities, mutual insurance, and residential housing.

Local Business-Owned

Purchasing Cooperatives: A regional, national, or global business owned by the entrepreneurs who operate their own business locations.

Local Business-Owned

Purchasing Cooperatives: A regional, national, or global business owned by the entrepreneurs who operate their own business locations.

Purchasing co-ops scale buying power and increase savings through shared services keeping locally owned and operated businesses competitive without sacrificing their independence. It is increasingly challenging to compete in local and regional communities, let alone the global marketplace. The purchasing cooperative business model is utilized by independent retail businesses, government bodies, as well as college and university networks to address economic pressures through efficiency and lead to sustainable growth for the individual groups involved.

Find a Co-op

Find a cooperative in your industry or in your region, 
and join the cooperatives movement.

Co-op Sectors

Cooperatives operate in many sectors of the economy. From electricity, utilities, and agriculture to retail shopping, healthcare, and restaurants, the cooperative business model in very diverse. Find your sector or explore other sectors to find how cooperatives thrive in so many ways.

Find My Sector

Associations

Many associations represent cooperative businesses in sectors, regions, and countries, providing an array of resources to ensure success. The International Co-operative Alliance is the global apex organization serving cooperatives around the world. View association in your sector or country and learn more.

View Associations

Training Materials

Be inspired by the cooperative business model. Learn through the stories of people from around the world how cooperatives are building a better world. Find inspirational and educational resources, sector specific training tools, and explore ownership models here.

Start My Training

News & Stories