No other organizations reflect the American ideals of democracy and self-help as do cooperatives. Their success, importance, and beneficial impact on the American economy testify to the role they play in all of our lives.
Cooperatives incorporate the ideals which drive the most successful economy in history. Over 100 million Americans own and control more than 47,000 cooperative businesses that provide goods and services in every economic sector.
Cooperatives provide essential services to the American economy with benefits for consumers, producers, and small businesses in urban and rural America. They range in size from small buying clubs to Fortune 500 companies.
Cooperatives are member owned and democratically controlled enterprises created and used by their member-owners to provide goods and services. Members unite in a cooperative to get services otherwise not available, to get quality supplies at the right time, to have access to markets, or for other mutually beneficial reasons.
Cooperatives exist not to generate a profit for themselves or outside investors, as do other businesses, but rather to provide goods and services at competitive prices. Profits–or net income–is distributed to members (patrons, as they are called) in the form of patronage refunds.