Consumer Co-Operatives

Consumer co-operatives are enterprises owned and controlled by their members and run primarily for the mutually beneficial provision of goods or services. The most common forms of consumer co-operatives are grocery retailers, pharmacies, credit unions and banks, health and welfare co-operatives, housing cooperatives, and utility providers. Co-operatives are distinguished from normal businesses by democratic forms of governance, by equity capital not being listed, and, in the case of consumer co-operatives, by usually distributing profit in proportion to patronage. Membership is usually open and normally one member has one vote. Costs of membership may be nominal or require significant capital investment.

Organizational structures and legal forms vary, even within jurisdictions. Consumer co-operatives are as varied as “community supported agriculture” schemes, where consumers collectively buy direct from farmers; ...

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