Co-operatives and mutuals operate across the Australian economy. From farming to finance, health to housing, motoring to manufacturing, they deliver trusted products and services in some of the most competitive domestic and international markets.
Some typical examples are credit unions and mutual banks, roadside assistance and mobility clubs, non-profit health funds, mutual insurers, profit to member super funds, retail buying groups, agricultural co-operatives and friendly societies.
Each type of co-operative and mutual is defined by its own history, legal framework and market experience. Each has responded differently to changes in the size and impact of the sector but many share common challenges.
Their purpose is to serve their members, who are also their customers, suppliers, their employees or a mixture. They do not exist to serve external capital investors, which means that they can concentrate directly on the products or services that they exist to provide, instead of the economic reward for shareholders. It is a different way of doing business – with a different purpose.