Can equality, economic growth and the environment thrive together?
“A cooperative (“coop”), co-operative (“co-op”), or coöperative (“coöp”) is an autonomous association of persons who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit. Cooperatives include non-profit community organizations and businesses that are owned and managed by the people who use its services (a consumer cooperative) and/or by the people who work there (a worker cooperative) or by the people who live there (a housing cooperative).” definition courtesy of Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative#cite_note-ica-principles-0
Co-operatives can take many forms, from stores where the members who shop there each own a share, where any profits are returned in the form of dividends or rebates. These are known as consumers co-operatives. Another common type is a producers co-operative, such as one where farmers join together to form a secondary industry such as a dairy plant to turn their raw product (milk) into consumer goods such as cheese, yogurt, butter, and consumer packaged milk products, realizing higher returns which helps stabilize their income as well as increasing their income. Co-operative banking or credit unions generally have lower fees than traditional banks, also lower credit requirements and local decision making which benefits small business. There are many other types, see the United Nations year of the Co-operative link below for more information.
As a Buddhist I strongly believe in co-operatives, as they treat everyone equally, as a person not a number, and the benefits are the same for all members. Being member owned and operated, workers wages and benefits tend to be slightly better in most cases as well. Profits stay within the geographic area where the co-operative is based, rather than funneled to another location within the country, or even to a foreign country. Also co-operatives are more involved in supporting non-profit ventures, and social work within their area. Having economic decision making locally based means that the people who make the decisions are the ones who will have to live with the impacts of those decisions.
https://www.vancity.com/MyCommunity/OurChangeProductsAndServices/ Ways one Canadian Credit Union gives back to the community
http://2012.coop/ website for the United Nations Year of the Co-operatives