A cooperative is 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. (1 member = 1 vote)

(Declaration on cooperative identity, International Cooperative Alliance).

The 7 Principles of Cooperation

  1. Voluntary membership and open to all
  2. Democratic power exercised by the members
  3. Economic participation of the members
  4. Autonomous and independent
  5. Education, training and information
  6. Cooperation among cooperatives
  7. Commitment to the community

Characteristics of a Cooperative Business

1. Ownership

Co-op success is born of one of its characteristics, namely that the owners are also the users. The life of a co-op is organized in a democratic manner. The title of ownership, company shares, authorizes the owner to use the services of the cooperative, to vote at annual general assemblies, to elect administrators and to be elected as an administrator.

2. Power

Co-op life is organized in a democratic manner. Members decide on the orientation and the control of their cooperative. This power is exercised mainly during the annual general assembly and is manifested in three ways. The right to voice one’s opinion, the right to submit proposals and the right to vote on the proposals.

Each member is accorded one vote. This rule of democratic function gives equal status to all members of the cooperative.

3. Results

Surpluses are transferred to the general reserve or are distributed to members based on the volume of their transactions with their local cooperative. This distribution of surpluses is spread to the greatest number of user members instead of favouring the wealth of a small group of individuals. It is important for the cooperative to preserve and keep alive this long-standing democratic tradition.

Decisional and Operational Processes at VIVACO groupe coopératif

In a cooperative organization, it is the annual assembly that holds all the power, but for obvious practical reasons, the assembly delegates a large part to the board of directors. Thus, all the administrative powers of co-op belong to the board of directors. Some powers are then delegated to various employee categories, so each may take on their roles in their areas of expertise.

Administrative Processes at VIVACO groupe coopératif

The cooperative must be administered and managed as efficiently as other types of businesses. To this end, the co-op has established a modus operandi that fosters healthy management practices.

Members

Members take on their rights and responsibilities as owners during the annual general assembly, which is held once a year. The members present:

  • Make decisions about all questions concerning the development of the cooperative
  • Learn about and approve the Annual Report
  • Elect administrators
  • Decide on surplus distribution

Administrators

Administrators have the following main responsibilities:

  • Determine the mission and orientation of the co-op
  • Plan the cooperative’s activities
  • Evaluate the results (board of director meeting)
  • Choose a general manager

Decide on the major orientations of the cooperative

General Manager

The general manager has the following main responsibilities:

  • Efficiently organizing the cooperative’s activities
  • Evaluating the results (daily)
  • Choosing employees

Determining management policies for the cooperative

The general manager derives authority solely from the board of directors

Employees

Employees perform the co-op’s day-to-day operations to ensure services are accessible to its members.