Co-operatives 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.
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operators put their values into practice.
Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and Women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member - one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operatives. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Surpluses are allocated for any or all of the following purposes:-
(i) developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible;
(ii) cash bonus to members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and
(iii) supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If a co-operative organisation enters into an agreement with any other organisation, including the Government, or raise capital from external sources, it do so on terms that ensure democratic control by its members and maintains its co-operative autonomy.
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. The general public-particularly young people and opinion leaders, are regularly informed about the nature and benefits of co-operatives.
Co-operation among co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members