What is a co-operative?

According to the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) :

Co-operatives are people-centred enterprises owned and run by and for their members to realise their common dreams. Profits generated are either reinvested in the enterprise or returned to the members.

Co-operatives bring people together in a democratic and equal way. Whether the members are the customers, employees, users or residents, co-operatives are democratically managed by the ‘one member, one vote’ rule. Members share equal voting rights regardless of the amount of capital they put into the enterprise. They allow people to take control of their economic future and because they are not owned by shareholders, the economic and social benefits of their activity stay in the communities where they are established.

As businesses are driven by values, not just profit, co-operatives share internationally agreed principles and act together to build a better world through co-operation. Putting fairness and equality at the heart of the enterprise, co-operatives around the world are allowing people to work together to create sustainable enterprises that generate long-term jobs and prosperity.

Co-operative economic development, characterised by the search for means of production and efficient exchanges based on co-operation, is there to improve people’s lives and look after the environment. This is far from being a marginal phenomenon, one in every six people on the planet are co-operators.

  • We recommend you, if you are not familiar with the cooperatives work model, to read as much information as possible about it to be sure that it is a suitable model for you.


  • Before setting up a new cop from cero, it is also a good thing to have been previously a member of one. If you are not familiar with this model you can look for others with more experience. Remember that working in a cooperative needs commitment and to be active in its activities!


  • Some art/culture existing cooperatives in Finland:



How to set up a cooperative

PELLERVO (Finnish Coop Center / Osuustoimintakeskus) have great materials both in Finnish and English about it:

Guidebooks in Finnish:


Founding package for a cooperative (in Finnish)

Cooperative´s taxation (in Finnish)