A cooperative or co-op is a business that is owned and democratically controlled by the members who use its services. Cooperatives are found across the U.S. in nearly every sector of the economy.
Members who use the cooperative own their co-op because they finance it in a variety of ways. They share in both the business risks and the business profits. Each cooperative determines the level of financial participation that is required to establish membership status in the co-op.
Members democratically control their cooperative by exercising the voting rights that come with membership. In Wisconsin, each member is typically entitled to one vote.
Members benefit from the cooperative based on their use of the co-op. All or part of a cooperative’s profits may be distributed proportionately, based on each member’s use, or patronage, of the co-op.