Cooperative Enterprises Build A Better World

Basics Natural Foods legally became a member-owned cooperative in 2005. A cooperative is an association of persons united to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned enterprise.

Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.

At Basics Co-op we uphold the following 7 principles, which are observed by cooperatives all over the world:

Voluntary and Open Membership

Definition: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

Democratic Control

Definition: Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. One member, one vote. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.

Member Economic Participation

Definition: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

Autonomy and Independence

Definition: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

Education, Training and Information

Definition: Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public — particularly young people and opinion leaders — about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Definition: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

Concern for Community

Definition: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.