How can I distinguish a co-op from other organizations?

A:

A co-op is a business, usually incorporated, that sells goods and services.  It is not a charitable organization or a social service agency. Simply put, a co-op is a business model that allows a group of people with a common need to combine their resources, or capital, to achieve their goals.  Cooperation is built upon the idea that the owners control the use of these resources to benefit the users of the co-op.  Integral to the cooperative way of doing business is transparency, fairness, democracy and education.  These concepts are based on a set of guidelines called the International Cooperative Principles (see www.ica.coop for more information) that serve as the underpinnings for how cooperatives operate


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