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Different types of co-operatives


Worker cooperatives

In a worker cooperative the majority of workers are members of the cooperative and the majority of members are workers. The cooperative aims to provide sustainable jobs and generate wealth for its members.

Some worker cooperatives are managed on a collective basis, where all employees will be members and will also be committee members or Directors.

Other worker cooperatives are managed through a smaller committee or Board of Directors that is democratically elected by and from the employee members. Workers can benefit by profits being distributed as a percentage of their wages.

Consumer cooperatives

These cooperatives are customer owned and controlled. Customers who choose to become members contribute to the business by purchasing products and benefit from access to fairly traded goods and a dividend based on their level of purchases. Members can also be involved in the decision making process at an organisational level.

Community cooperatives

Are enterprises that are owned and controlled by people belonging to a particular geographical community or community of interest to carry out activities that are of benefit to the whole community.

No interest is paid on loans or savings. Members benefit from a share of profits at the end of the year depending on their investment in the cooperative and how much profit it makes.

Cooperative consortia

Are cooperatives formed by a number of independent businesses, organisations or individuals, and are owned and controlled by those members.

The members enhance their trade or reduce costs by working together on key activities such as leasing premises, buying equipment or marketing the members' products and services.. You can download a guide to cooperative consortia called Trading for Mutual Benefit (PDF) [692KB] .

Agricultural and Fishing Cooperatives

These are cooperatives of farmers or fishermen who combine to sell their produce to get better prices. As with cooperative consortia, they can also work together to lease premises, buy equipment or market their members' products.

Housing cooperatives

Are formed by a group of tenants who share ownership and control of their housing. This is an alternative business model that combines the individual spirit of home ownership with strong community support structures.

Where can I find out more information?

If you're looking for more information on cooperatives in the UK or are interested in establishing your own you find out more information on Cooperative UK.

You can also find out more information about cooperatives operating in the UK and what they mean to their members by viewing the Community Anchors: A Co-operative Recovery - What is a Co-op? (PDF) [5MB]

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