Co-operative enterprise is a major force for sustainable economic and social development not just in the North West of England, but across the UK, and throughout the world. Nationally, Co-operativesUK (www.cooperativesuk.coop) has verifiable data confirming turnover of £22.5 billion, and estimates the UK sector as a whole is turning over in excess of £30 billion. The co-operatives in membership of Co-operativesUK between them employ some 100,000 people.
At the global level, the International Co-operative Alliance (www.ica.coop) estimates that over 800 million people are members of co-operatives, which together employ over 100 million people. A 2006 survey of co-operative and mutual enterprises worldwide (www.global300.coop) found that the top 300 such businesses alone were together equivalent in scale to the world’s tenth largest economy, with a collective turnover nearing $1 trillion.
The Rochdale Pioneers started the world's first successful co-operative enterprise in 1846. Co-operative businesses around the world are defined and characterised by shared co-operative values and principles.
"... co-operative enterprises provide the organizational means whereby a significant proportion of humanity is able to take into its own hands the task of creating productive employment, overcoming poverty and achieving social integration ..."
Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary-General
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.
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.
Co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
The seven principles are:
Co‑operatives UK is a secondary co‑operative, owned and democratically controlled by its members who are themselves co‑operatives, but the work that we do benefits all co‑operative enterprises in the United Kingdom. We promote the interests of co‑operatives, we work to increase awareness and understanding of co‑operative values and principles, and we support the growth and development of new and existing co‑operatives.