|What is a Co-op?
A co-op is an association of persons who have voluntarily joined together to
provide themselves with a business that can supply them with products and
services at minimal cost. The control of the business is in the hands of its
member-owners who are legally the owners.
It is also an organization where democratic control is the practice; an
organization controlled by people, rather than dollars; an organization
where member-owners have one vote and one vote only, regardless of how much
money they have accumulated in share capital.
What do co-ops do?
Co-ops are actively involved in a wide range of activities from securing
employment to satisfying the economic and social needs of their members and
the community as a whole. Today, co-operatives have diversified into almost
all fields of business activities including, but not limited to: retail
grocery stores, real estate and housing, transportation, industrial and
commercial production, banking and credit institutions and day care... and
the list is growing every day.
Who's the boss?
As the co-op is formed by the members for the members, the membership, as a
whole, is the boss.
Members exercise their power at the annual general meeting held annually,
which all members are urged to attend. Thus, the annual general meeting is a
critically important event in a co-operative society. It is at this meeting
that the members appoint the Board of Directors from amongst the membership,
choose the auditors, review and approve financial statements as well as the
Board's and manager's reports.
Who manages the co-op?
The Board of Directors are elected at the annual general meeting from
amongst the members. They are entrusted with the management of the affairs
of the co-op. The Board appoints among its members a chairperson, a
secretary and a treasurer as well as sub-committees. The Board also appoints
a manager who in turn hires employees and is responsible for the day-to-day
running of the co-operative.
The Board meets monthly to discuss matters relating to the affairs and
business of the co-op, which might include loan approvals, membership
applications, investments, and so on.