Our Co-op Identity

Our advantage in our communities and in the marketplace is our co-operative identity. It’s what makes us a community asset. It’s what makes us root jobs and wealth in communities. It’s what brings us together to address issues both large and small for the betterment of our economy and society. It’s what makes members be able to actualize themselves fully by participating in their lives and communities.

No other firms put members above profit in a democratic manner as co-operatives have done for over 150 years. Co-operatives are a dual nature organization putting social goals like food security, safe and affordable housing, secure banking services and dignified jobs as purposes with sound business operations as a method to achieve them.

All co-operatives share the co-operative identity, principles and values which are stewarded by co-ops ourselves through the worldwide apex organization, the International Co-operative Alliance.

The Co-operative Identity

A co-operative 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.

Engaging co-operatives with the co-operative identity, and protecting it, are core activities of VAWC as without being clearly member owned and run, all the benefits of co-operation and our distinguishing factors are at stake. Operating a successful co-operative is aided by the co-operative principles and values which are discussed in more length at ICA’s website

Co-operative Principles

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

2. Democratic Member Control

3. Member Economic Participation

4. Autonomy and Independence

5. Education, Training and Information

6. Co-operation among Co-operatives

7. Concern for Community

Co-operatives 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.

Having principles and values is one thing, practicing them is another. For assistance with how to act with these beacons lighting the path read the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade by the ICA. We’re proud to work with our follow federations on celebrating and protecting the co-op identity including the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, the Valley Co-operative Business Association and the United States Federation of Worker Co-operatives.

You can read more about our thoughts on the co-operative identity by reading our Resolution on the Co-op Identity.