What is a co‑operative?
There are different types of co‑operatives in the world and they operate in all sections of the economy. They vary in size, structure and working methods ‑ in the retail sector alone, co‑operatives range from small independently owned shops to the multi‑million pound turnover of the Co‑operative Group. Trinity Wholefoods is a workers co‑operative and the primary members are the co‑operatives' employees.
A workers co‑operative is a different way of doing business. It is different because it is jointly owned and democratically controlled by its members. All members actively participate in setting their co‑operatives policies and making decisions. At Trinity Wholefoods all members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).
A co‑operative business is driven by its ethical values. Some of the underlying values of a co‑operative enterprise are
• A fundamental respect for human beings and a belief in their capacity to improve themselves through mutual help
• That democratic procedures applied to economic activities are feasible, desirable and efficient
• That democratically controlled businesses make a contribution to the common good
The official Statement on Co‑operative identity, which was adopted by the International Co‑operative Alliance in 1995, provides a definition of a co‑operative, describes the values that drive co‑operatives and the principles which guide their organization, structure and culture.
"An automonous association of persons united voluntary 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 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.