THE SEVEN CO-OP PRINCIPLES, PRINCIPLE #6
This week we are sharing Principle 6, Cooperation Among Cooperatives of the Seven Co-operative Principles. As last week’s Principle 5 stated, education is a key value for co-operatives and we hope you have enjoyed learning about Principles one through five so far.
THE SEVEN CO-OP PRINCIPLES - PRINCIPLE #6: COOPERATION AMONG COOPERATIVES
To state that a core principle and value of co-operatives is to cooperate with other co-operatives seems to be a no-brainer, but for other organizations the same is simply not true. In order for co-operatives to effectively serve its members and surrounding community, co-operatives must work together on a local, regional, national and international level.
SEVEN COOPERATIVE PRINCIPLES
- Voluntary, Open Ownership. Open to all without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
- Democratic Owner Control. One Owner, One Vote.
- Owner Economic Participation.
- Autonomy and Independence.
- Education, Training and Information.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives.
- Concern for the Community.
CO-OPERATIVES VALUE SOLIDARITY
Unlike other forms of business enterprise, co-operatives share the ideal value of solidarity. Co-operatives worldwide share the commitment of unifying humanity and improving the sustainability and economic future for more than just their local community. This value reflects on the entire nature and purpose of co-operatives. We truly are Stronger Together.
Principle 6 can be broken into two dimensions.
- Dimension one identifies co-operatives as economic entities that trade goods and services.
- Dimension two identifies co-operatives as social entities comprised of members who share common interest in the co-op and relate positively to how all co-operatives conduct business. As individuals join a co-operative, they are helping to support and build the co-operative movement, as the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) states, and create “wealth for the many, not personal wealth for the few through unbridled market competition”. Members can see and feel the butterfly effect and impact their co-operative makes in the world.
Unlike many publicly traded enterprises, the co-operative model rarely uses mergers and acquisitions as a vehicle for growth. Co-ops do often form co-operative groups which extend the initial reach and impact range enabling increased success of all co-operatives and create common wealth among co-operatives. This does not mean that once an individual becomes a member of one co-op they automatically become a member of another or all co-ops, but it does bring the co-op tribe closer together and encourages that partnership and mutual support. By working together, co-operatives can move beyond making an impact on a local level and can build mutual representative strength. We are just friends helping friends build better futures.
WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE SAME ENDS
As we discussed before, each co-operative crafts an Ends statement. These Ends define the desired outcomes that come from the co-op’s existence. Principle 6 is about co-operatives working together to achieve shared goals, expand fair trade practices and do everything we can to create a sustainable and efficient economic future for generations to come.
CO-OPERATIVES THAT PARTNER TOGETHER, WIN TOGETHER
Co-operatives by design, are self-sustaining enterprises and do not require assistance from other co-ops. To truly thrive and grow the co-operative movement however, co-ops need to work together. We have partnered with several other co-operatives throughout our developmental stages and appreciate the support and generosity of neighboring co-ops. Grassroots is grateful for the advice, guidance, and financial support we’ve received from the co-op community.
Grassroots has received free of charge equipment, documents, materials, and consultation that would be valued in the tens of thousands of dollars from the generosity, and observance of Principle 6, of our Virginia sister co-ops Roanoke Co-op and Friendly City Co-op. Once we are an established and stable co-op, we will be able to pay it forward as well and provide the same to other co-ops in need.