A cooperative business is democratically owned and controlled by member-owners. Co-ops are nonprofit organizations that form when a community of people come together to advance a shared mission. Co-ops are local economic engines, promoting growth through community investment, collective purchasing power, local spending, competitive industry standards, high quality jobs, and caring customer service.
In our case, South Philly Food Co-op is a grocery store formed by member-owners and neighbors from the South Philly community. We are a consumer cooperative, which means we’re a purchasing organization owned and operated for the benefit of the people who shop at our store.
South Philly Food Co-op and other cooperatives around the world operate with the same seven core principles, outlined by the International Cooperative Alliance.
- Voluntary & Open Membership - Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to everyone able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
- Democratic Member Control - Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by members with equal voting power, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
- Member Economic Participation - Members contribute equitably to the capital of the cooperative.
- Autonomy & Independence - Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations or raise capital from external sources, they ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their autonomy.
- Education, Training & Information - Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of the cooperative.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives - Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
- Concern for Community - Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies and services approved by their members.