What is the co-operative difference?
Co-operatives are enterprises that put people at the centre of their business and not capital. Co-operatives are business enterprises and thus can be defined in terms of three basic interests: ownership, control, and beneficiary. Only in the co-operative enterprise are all three interests vested directly in the hands of the user.
Co-operatives put people at the heart of all their business. They follow a broader set of values than those associated purely with making a profit. Because co-operatives are owned and democratically-controlled by their members (individuals or groups and even capital enterprises) the decisions taken by co-operatives balance the need for profitability with the needs of their members and the wider interests of the community.
Co-operatives are also enterprises that follow a set of principles and values - The Co-operative Principles. The Co-operative Identity Statement elaborated in 1995 by the ICA is the internationally recognized definition of the co-operatives, its values, and principles