A co-op is "a jointly owned enterprise” engaging in the production or distribution of goods or the supplying of services.  A co-op may also have social goals, using a portion of the proceeds to make an impact on society. Decisions are made democratically by a vote, one per member. The start-up capital can be raised by small membership “buy in” rather than by going into debt or involving a venture capitalist.  Productivity increases by 9 to 19% in cooperative businesses.

Professor J. Palmer (Jim) Brown

American poverty is cause by a flawed system that creates a self-reinforcing cycle.

  • No money.
  • No education.
  • No jobs. 
  • No money. 

The characteristic of a flawed system
is that it tolerates flaws in the system.

Co-ops are everywhere.

In the typical capitalist model, the CEO is at the top and the consumers are the bottom, sending the majority of the money up the chain to him. Customers are a means to an end and profit is the bottom line.  But in a co-op, the model is turned upside down with the consumers at the top, dividing the profits, with the general manager at the bottom of the chain, earning a reasonable salary. The capitalist model is required by law to maximize shareholder’s value. In contrast, the co-op exists to maximize the benefits and returns to the members.

Organizing to meet basic needs:

Food Hubs
Housing Cooperatives
Energy Cooperatives
Worker Cooperatives
Producer / Marketing Cooperatives
Credit Unions
Childcare Cooperatives
Artist Cooperatives
Freelancer Cooperatives
Consumer Cooperatives
Purchasing Cooperatives

How a co-op works.

Housing Co-ops



Health Co-ops

Health Care Co-op,
Samaritan Ministries

A worker-owned co-op is owned and operated by its members for their mutual benefit.  Members are given ownership in exchange for work instead of capital. A worker-owned co-op is a complicated system for sharing ownership and laws vary from state to state.  There are very few attorneys that know about worker-owned co-ops.  There is also a general lack of awareness of the benefits of a worker-owned co-op.  This may be the reason that so few co-ops are worker-owned.  Instead they are consumer or producer owned.


Cooperative businesses are typically more resilient than many other forms of enterprise, with 80% of co-operatives surviving their first five years compared with 41% of other business ownership models. More than one billion people in 96 countries have joined at least one cooperative, and many have joined more than one.  If member of co-ops were a country, they would be the seventh largest country in the world.  It is a good solution to break the cycle of poverty and allow for ownership and prosperity within the poorest communities.  It is a higher note in the triad of the economic chord.

Energy Co-ops


Co-ops: Healthier Economic Development