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A cooperative is a private business organization that is owned and controlled by the people who use its products, supplies or services. Although cooperatives vary in type and membership size, all were formed to meet the specific objectives of members, and are structured to adapt to member’s changing needs. Cooperatives are formed by individuals who coordinate among themselves (horizontal coordination) to achieve vertical integration in their business activities.
Although people have been working together for their mutual benefit throughout human history, the cooperative form of the business organization began during the Industrial Revolution. Cooperatives were useful for promoting the interests of the less powerful members of society. Farmers, producers, workers, and consumers found that they could accomplish more collectively than they could individually.
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