What is a Co-operative?

Co-operatives operate for the benefit of their member-owners. In a Co-operative, those with similar needs act together and pool their resources for mutual gain. But the returns are not just monetary. Members ensure that their Co-operative business provides the best quality products and services at the lowest possible cost. Members control the business through participation in their Co-operative and through democratic practice. These member-owners share equally in the control of their Co-operative. They meet at regular intervals, hear detailed reports, and elect directors from among themselves. The directors, in turn, hire management to handle the day-to-day affairs of the Co-operative in a way that services the members' interests.

Members invest in shares in the business to provide capital for a strong and efficient operation. All income (profits) left after bills are paid and money is set aside for operations and improvements are returned to co-op members. Co-operatives work together on the regional and national level to promote exchange among Co-operatives, foster regional Co-operative development, provide educational services, and provide a forum for examining and acting on common concerns of the Co-operative movement.

Co-operatives are united internationally through the International Co-operative Alliance which aims to promote Co-operative development and trade worldwide. A Co-operative can be established for any type of enterprise where there are group of individuals with similar interest recognize the benefit of cooperating for the common good of each other; be it beekeepers, fresh produce, farmers, investments ,youth etc. Another type of Co-operative that is established to provide savings opportunity, credit and loans to its members is called a CREDIT UNION.

Co-operatives are democratically controlled and member-owned. Credit Unions can provide members the opportunity to own their own financial institution and help them create opportunities such as starting small businesses, building family homes and educating themselves and their children. This is a service that can be extended to Non-Financial Co-operatives.


Encourage and help members to save regularly to achieve their financial goals

Provide loans to their members at competitive rates

Provide financial counseling to their members often at no cost


Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.


The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.

1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership

Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control

Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.

3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence

Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter to agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

5th Principle: Education, Training and Information

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

6th Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7th Principle: Concern for Community

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

How Can I Join A Credit Union?

Credit Unions are open to all persons who will want to join, regardless of your class, creed or colour. You can choose one that suits your needs. There are some that are open to the public, while others are affiliated with an occupation or religion.

Once you select one that suits your needs, visit their office and inquire about it's financial policies and benefits.


Should You Join a Credit Union because…

Credit Unions have been very successful in helping members to manage their personal finances by providing regular educational programmes. These sessions help to guide and direct members on how to use the resources to their best advantage.

Credit Unions exist to serve their members and communities. As not-for-profit Co-operative institutions, Credit Unions use excess earnings to offer members more affordable loans, a higher return on savings, lower fees or new products and services. They serve members from all walks of life, including the poor and disenfranchised.

Credit Unions promote the welfare of the community by creating a source of credit for the benefit of members at a fair and reasonable rate of interest.

When you join a Credit Union you become not only a member but also a part owner. You share in any surplus that is earned annually. Members choose from a wide range of financial services in a safe, convenient and friendly atmosphere.

Life insurance coverage is in place for members’ savings and loans from their Credit Unions, usually that is at no cost to the member.