ABC affirms the International Cooperative Alliance’s definition of a cooperative as an “autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise” as well as the seven cooperative principles.
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. [People] serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
3. Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
5. Education, Training and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6. Cooperation among Co-operatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7. Concern for Community
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
Alongside the International Cooperative Alliance values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity, these values shape how we do our work.
- Joy: We value song, jokes, play, celebration, and creativity in our internal work and our work with clients and community and also aim to support one another’s time away from work.
- Study: We seek continual learning and believe everyone has wisdom to share and to receive. We observe and ask questions, theorize, look to historical and current struggles, apply and experiment, reflect, and repeat.
- Stewardship: We each contribute our particular gifts to the shared project of building a resilient coop. We are group-centered and seek to act in the best interest of the whole.
- Embodied Alignment: We work to model the worlds we want to see in the structure, content, and atmosphere of our workplace and our offerings.
- Regard: We hold ourselves and one another as worthy of high regard. We foster direct communication and make space for contradictions, generative conflict, and change.
- Collective Liberation: We prioritize the training and leadership development of people most directly targeted by capitalism and colonialism who are engaged in struggles for social, economic, and environmental justice.
- Shared Power: We believe decisions should be made by those most affected by their outcomes. As a coop focused on finances, we advocate for transparency and shared governance around resource allocation.