Building a Co-operative Economy
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How Co-ops Differ from Other Businesses

Why co-op?

Check out our handy map as to the various business models available for people in British Columbia - and you'll see why we co-operate. You click on the image, or here, to see it better.


Co-ops are different - in great ways

Co-operatives and credit unions are community-based organizations that care not only about the bottom lines of their businesses, but also about the needs of their members and the quality of life in their communities. They bring many obvious benefits to their members such as sharing costs or financial dividends. But the process of being an active member brings its own rewards, allowing member-owners to solidify social and economic links in the community. Perhaps most importantly, membership provides a common ground and support to reduce isolation and build confidence and skills.

Co-operative organizations differ from other businesses in three key ways:

  • A Different Purpose: Co-ops and credit unions meet the common needs of their members, whereas most investor-owned businesses exist to maximize profit for shareholders.

  • A Different Control Structure: Co-ops and credit unions use a system of one-member/one-vote, not one-vote-per-share. This helps them to serve common interests and to ensure that people, not capital, control the organization.

  • A Different Allocation of Profit: Co-ops and credit unions share profits among their member-owners on the basis of how much they use the organization, not on how many shares they hold.