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WHAT IS A COOPERATIVE?

From the outside, many co-ops look like any other business, since a co-op provides products and services like conventional businesses do. But it’s what goes on behind the scenes that makes it different. A cooperative exists to serve its members, but what makes co-ops unique is that the members are also the owners. So, in addition to getting the products and services you need, you also have a say in the business decisions your cooperative makes.

As a cooperative, CGHC is governed by a Board of Directors elected by our members and operated for the mutual benefit of our members. Also, any earnings we make are returned to our members in the forms of lower prices and improved services. This level of cooperation builds a strong bond between the people in the cooperative. We are all working toward the same goals – keeping members healthy and making health care as affordable as possible.

What famous historical figure established the first successful cooperative in America?

Benjamin Franklin established the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire in 1752. The successor to this cooperative continues to serve members in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to this day.

How many American jobs are created by cooperatives in the US?

Cooperatives directly employ over 200,000 people and pay $75 billion in wages to American workers. Several other jobs are created indirectly, particularly in the agriculture sector.

Who owns a cooperative?

Members are the owners of a cooperative. The cooperative business model dictates that any profit made by a cooperative must either be retained to invest in the growth of the cooperative or returned to the members by way of patronage capital.

7 COOPERATIVE PRINCIPLES

Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance in 1995. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.

VOLUNTARY AND OPEN MEMBERSHIP
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its 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 their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

MEMBERS’ ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

AUTONOMY AND INDEPENDENCE
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND INFORMATION
Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

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
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.