Co-operatives have a long and successful tradition both in Canada and around the world, and have proven amazingly flexible in meeting a wide variety of human needs. They have done so driven not by profit, but by a desire to meet common needs and to bring fairness, equity, and justice to the marketplace.
Through their tradition of self-help and mutual aid, co-ops have made a major contribution to the development and stability of communities in British Columbia.
Co-ops help people obtain goods and services that they may not otherwise be able to afford. For example, co-operatives can improve access and affordability to goods and services (such as housing, employment, credit, etc.) by pooling their members' purchasing power.
Co-ops are open to everyone regardless of income or social status, and each member has an equal vote no matter how much they've invested in the co-op. This makes co-ops more accountable than other enterprises, such as publicly traded corporations, where the weight of a vote is affected by the size of investment. It is often said that co-ops are associations of people, whereas firms (such as publicly-traded corporations) are associations of capital.
Co-ops help build stronger communities. Since most co-ops are community and regionally based, investment in, and surplus revenue from, the co-op stays within the local community.
Co-operatives also enable communities to have a degree of autonomy from outside forces. Community-based ownership makes co-ops less vulnerable to takeovers and closures by outside decision makers.
Co-ops and credit unions are the best example of how democratic principles can be applied to economic life. Co-operation means people working together to meet common goals and needs. Co-operatives provide opportunities for people to direct what happens in all aspects of their lives.
Within a co-operative, people find strength in collective action and the powerful motivation of mutual support.