There are six types of cooperative and they serve many different needs.
In general they operate under the same basic principles as defined by the International Cooperative Alliance.
…are owned by people who produce similar types of products – farmers who grow crops, raise cattle or milk cows, or by craft workers and artisans. By banding together, cooperating producers leverage greater bargaining power with buyers. They also combine resources to more effectively market and brand their products.
Purchasing/shared services cooperatives
…are owned and governed by independent business owners that come together to enhance their purchasing power, lowering their costs and improving their competitiveness and ability to provide quality services and products. They operate in all sectors of New Zealand’s economy and include some of the largest businesses in the country.
…are financial entities which belong to their members, who are at the same time owners and customers. They can be set up as a bank, a building society or a credit union.
…are owned entirely by those who take out policies. Surpluses are either used to reduce future premiums or rebated to policyholders as a dividend.
…are owned by the people who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative. Consumer co-ops may sell consumer goods such as food, or provide housing, or electricity. Other co-ops such as community creches provide childcare services. Almost any consumer need can be met by a cooperative.
…are owned and governed by the employees of the business. They operate in all sectors of the economy providing workers with both employment and ownership opportunities. Examples are to be found among organic shops, taxi companies and overseas in light and heavy industry.