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Cooperatives - What Are They & How Do They Work?
Cooperatives, or co-ops, have been around for several years serving people and businesses for the better of the community. Cooperatives are businesses owned by the people who use them. Depending on classification, they either provide certain services or foods to those within the community. Those who are a part of a cooperative benefit by helping, not only themselves, but others as well.
They provide necessary components to the economy. For example, agriculture cooperatives are controlled and owned by the user, typically farmers. Farmers are able to join what are known as marketing cooperatives and charge more for the products but less for their marketing, attracting business. Those buying the products benefit on the fact that they are purchasing fresher, healthier products.
Cooperatives Group Classifications
Cooperatives are classified into groups such as;
- Marketing Cooperatives
- Purchasing Cooperatives
- Service Cooperatives
- Food Cooperatives
Within these classifications you can find more specialized cooperatives such as;
- child care
- credit union
Each of these offers affordable alternatives to those who are a part of the cooperative. Members have the option of electing a board of directors. The board of directors manages daily activities within the cooperative.
Consortium child care cooperatives are also offered within industrial parks. This helps parents place their child within a daycare that is reasonably close to their job and usually at a lower rate than most daycares. Even though it is the businesses who provide the initial funding to start this type of service, it still revolves back to those that own the daycare electing their own board of directors. It is the owner of the business and its members that provide all of the decisions and ultimately decide how it is ran.
A good example of how utility cooperatives can work for their members is Craw-Kan Telephone Cooperative Company. This company provides telephone service to its members who hold shares within the company and at the end of every year each member receives a portion of that profit sharing. This not only entices others to become members and pay their bill on time regularly, but also benefits both the company and those that they provide service to.
Electric and telephone cooperatives provide their services to people while hearing members voices. The members are able to voice their concerns and suggest what they want changed as it is them who decide what it is that goes on within that cooperative.
Membership in a Cooperative
Members of a cooperative have a large list of responsibilities that they must follow. They must make sure that all of the applicable laws are met and followed by its members. They must appoint or removed directors on an appropriate basis. Members must know what their cooperative offers and familiarize them self with services in order to better serve others. You must be able to meet customer satisfaction in order to run efficiently, effectively and profitably.
There are times when cooperatives must decide to merge with other businesses in order to expand their services or dissolve on the grounds that there is not enough supply and demand of their services. The decisive role of the members can be difficult and yet it is important that they are well informed and able to make those decisions.
Cooperatives are an important part of people's everyday lives. By providing goods and services to their members, they are offering a mutually beneficial option. Without cooperatives, nearly 26 million people in America would be without the electric services that these places provide. Over 100 million Americans would be hard pressed to find affordable goods and services and all the net worth that these cooperatives pull in together would be lost.
It is important to have these in our lives in order to maintain a balance between affordable and quality in our lives. People are brought together in a cooperative group in order to run a business that will provide quality services to those in need while maintaining the right to make decisions about their company as a whole. That is what makes cooperatives so unique among the rest in the world today.