What are Cooperative and Mutual Enterprises (CMEs)?

Co-operatives and mutuals are member-owned businesses where benefits are derived and distributed equitably on the basis of use. They are a rational alternative to the investor-owned business model which prioritises returns to external shareholders. CMEs are often a response to market failure. Once established, many co-operative and mutual enterprises been highly successful, some serving their communities for more than 150 years.

The seven co-operative principles ensure all stakeholders in the economy – customers, workers, suppliers – can have a say in business decisions. These are:

  1. Voluntary and open membership
  2. Democratic member control
  3. Member economic participation
  4. Autonomy and independence
  5. Education, training, and information
  6. Co-operation among co-operatives
  7. Concern for Community

Member-based businesses create competition and choice for consumers, while also giving small to medium enterprises opportunity to share the costs to access larger markets.

About Co-operatives

A co-op’s purpose is to provide benefits back to its members.

About Mutuals

People organising together to meet their shared needs.

Paper: Defining Mutuality

Defining Mutuality explains what co-ops and mutuals are and how they fit together as a unified sector.

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