A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
EVERYONE IS WELCOME
Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
We all have childhood memories of parents, teachers and others encouraging us to work together. A co-op is what “working together” looks like all grown up. From the outside, many co-ops look like any other business, since a co-op provides products and services like conventional businesses do. But it’s what goes on behind the scenes that makes it different.
A cooperative exists to serve its members, but what makes co-ops unique is that the members are also the owners. So, in addition to getting the products and services you need, you also have a say in the business decisions your cooperative makes.
Rather than rewarding outside investors with its profits, a co-op returns surplus revenue to its members in proportion to how much they use the co-op. This democratic approach to business results in a powerful economic force that benefits the co-op, its members and the communities it serves.
THE CO-OP SIOUX FALLS EXISTS SO THERE WILL BE A VIBRANT COMMUNITY THAT:
Has access to sustainable, healthy and fairly traded goods and services means that because we exist the community can purchase food that is local, farmed or ranched in such a way as to maintain the land, offers nutritional value, and is sourced from entities that offer fair wage and fair labor practices.
Champions the Cooperative Business Model means we behave like a co-op and speak about the Co-operative business. We have meetings, our members are offered the opportunity to vote and serve on the board, we solicit investment from our owners, and we solicit comment from our owners. In addition our Board of Directors receive training in their role. Because our business model offers a triple bottom line: Social, Environmental, Economic, we hold our standards high as we go about our business and we measure ourselves against those high standards in yearly monitoring reports.
Is Better educated about food and social responsibility means we address our responsibility to offer information about food sources, food issues, economic and environmental issues related to farming, food production, land and water use and sustainability in general.
Supports and strengthens the local economy means we support other local businesses by using their goods and services, purchase from local sources when able, donate to local causes, and participate in public health and lifestyle wellness endeavors.
Enjoys a Higher Quality of Life represents a very high order hope or dream. I think that this one speaks of the hoped for outcome of the above goals. Lifestyle questionnaires attempt to quantify a higher quality of life with questions about the existence of quality public schools, reliable transportation, access to parks and recreation, museums, art, a rich cultural life. Some ask about safety, nightlife, downtown scene, clean environment, the price of housing.
WHY CO-OP’S MATTER
Cooperation is defined as working together towards the same end, and joining forces to accomplish a task that one can’t achieve alone. Simply put, co-ops provide the framework that allows people to get what they want in a way that better meets their economic, social and cultural needs.
And because cooperation builds strong bonds between the people who use products and the people who supply them, co-ops offer a way to transform the way business is done. Co-ops give you the opportunity to get the products and services you need on a daily basis while strengthening the community around you.
In addition to a co-op’s commitment to serving its members, most adhere to a set of seven principles that help guide the business. And as a result, many co-ops set a standard for the surrounding business community with a commitment to environmental and social responsibility.
THE SEVEN CO-OP PRINCIPLES
Co-ops are based on values not unlike those we subscribe to individually, including self-responsibility, democracy, equality, honesty and social responsibility.
In addition to these common values, seven basic international principles serve as guidelines to provide a democratic structure for co-ops around the world. While adoption of these principles is not required, most co-ops choose to adopt them for their business.
1. Voluntary and open membership
2. Democratic member control
3. Member economic participation
4. Autonomy and independence
5. Education, training and information
6. Cooperation among cooperatives
7. Concern for community