So, what exactly is a cooperative?

It's a group of people who have decided to work together to create their own business that they can all own and run democratically in order to achieve their economic, social, and cultural goals.

According to the International Cooperative Alliance, a cooperative is an 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. Read more...

Yes, but what does it entail? Defining what a cooperative is:

Cooperatives are organizations that put the needs and interests of their members first and are run democratically by those members.

People from all walks of life can work together in harmony and democracy in a cooperative. Cooperatives are democratically run by the 'one member, one vote' rule, which applies regardless of whether the members are customers, employees, users, or residents. No member's financial investment in the business affects their voting power.

Cooperatives are businesses that are motivated by values other than profit, and they work together to improve the world in accordance with universally accepted principles.

Cooperatives are empowering people all over the world to work together to build businesses that generate long-term jobs and prosperity by prioritizing principles of fairness, equality, and social justice.

Because cooperatives are not owned by shareholders, the economic and social benefits of their activity remain in the communities where they are established, empowering locals to take charge of their economic future. The business reinvests its earnings or distributes them to its shareholders.

There are an estimated three million cooperatives around the world, so the cooperative movement is by no means a fringe phenomenon.