An autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. The legal structure of cooperative can function as a separate legal person that owns property, takes out loans and benefits its members.
Cooperatives adhere to a set of values, including self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, solidarity, honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Accordingly, cooperatives operationalize seven basic principles:
Principle 1: Voluntary and open membership
Principle 2: Democratic member control
Principle 3: Member economic participation
Principle 4: Autonomy and independence
Principle 5: Education, training and information
Principle 6: Cooperation among cooperatives
Principle 7: Concern for community.