As described by the National Cooperative Business Association, a cooperative is a business. Co-ops range in size from small store-fronts to large Fortune 500 companies. In many ways, they're like any other business, but in several important ways they're very unique.
- Are owned and democratically controlled by their members- the people who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods- not by outside investors; Co-op members elect their board of directors from within the membership.
- Return surplus revenues (income over expenses and investment) to members proportionate to their use of the cooperative, not proportionate to their “investment” or ownership share.
- Are motivated not by profit, but by service-to meet their members’ needs for affordable and high quality goods or services and exist solely to serve their members.