A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
The Davis Food Co-op adheres to the principles of cooperatives as revised and adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance. These were modified in 1995, at the ICA gathering in Manchester, England. More about our fabulous NorCal food co-op on our FAQ page.
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
VOLUNTARY AND OPEN MEMBERSHIP
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
DEMOCRATIC MEMBER CONTROL
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are organised in a democratic manner.
MEMBER ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
AUTONOMY AND INDEPENDENCE
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
EDUCATION, TRAINING AND INFORMATION
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives.
They inform the general public—particularly young people and opinion leaders—about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
CO-OPERATION AMONG CO-OPERATIVES
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
CONCERN FOR COMMUNITY
While focusing on member needs, co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.
Adopted in Manchester (UK)
23 September 1995
Producers like farmers, artisans or industrialists use co-ops to market or process their goods jointly. The Artery at 207 G Street in Davis is a local example.
Workers in areas as diverse as bicycle sales, baked goods production, and grocery sales use co-ops to create employment that offers many of the benefits of ownership: wages or income that directly corresponds to the economic results of the business. Arizmendi Bakery in Oakland and The Cheeseboard in Berkeley are two regional examples.
Consumers use co-ops to gain better prices, acquire unique goods and services, or to meet social or cultural desires. The Davis Food Co-op is in this category.
Private businesses or public entities can use cooperatives to gain purchasing power through bulk buying, obtain products or services that are difficult to obtain individually, or share administration of certain projects to reduce overhead costs. Hibbert Lumber and Ace Hardware are both local examples.