Co-operatives take an ethical, sustainable approach to business by considering not only the economic impacts of their activities, but also their social/cultural and environmental impacts.

This values-based, triple-bottom-line approach is one that many companies are starting to integrate into their business models, as part of their corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts. However, these principles have been at the core of all co-operatives since their inception, positioning co-ops at the forefront of today’s new economy.

People First

  • Co-operatives are not driven by profit, but by a desire to meet common needs and bring fairness, equity, and justice to the marketplace
  • The decisions taken by co-ops balance the need for profitability with the needs of their members and the wider interests of the community

Affordability and Equality

  • Co-ops help people obtain goods and services they may not otherwise be able to afford
  • Co-operatives can improve access and affordability to goods and services (such as housing, employment, credit, etc.) by pooling their members’ purchasing power


  • Co-ops are open to everyone regardless of income or social status, and each member has an equal vote no matter how much they’ve invested in the co-op
  • Members/owners vote for a co-op’s board of directors, and the board is directly accountable to its members
  • Co-ops are more accountable to its members/customers than other enterprises, such as publicly traded corporations, where the weight of a vote is affected by the size of the investment

Strong Local Communities

  • Since most co-ops are community and regionally based, investment in, and surplus revenue from, the co-op stays within the local community
  • Co-operatives also enable communities to have a degree of autonomy from outside forces; Community-based ownership makes co-ops less vulnerable to takeovers and closures by outside decision makers

Stability and Longevity

  • As trusted places to do business, co-operatives are chosen by more than one in seven people worldwide
  • Nearly twice as many BC co-ops remain in operation compared to other forms of enterprise after five years
  • Co-ops create jobs at nearly five times the rate of the overall economy
  • Total membership in BC co-operatives exceeds two million people; Collectively, these people control more than 48 billion dollars in assets through ownership of their co-ops

The co-operative model’s wide lens on business has enabled co-ops to make major contribution to the development and stability of communities in British Columbia and across Canada.