Co-ops 101: Philadelphia Edition

PACA has produced a self-guided webinar for people in the Philadelphia region to learn about co-ops.

Click below to begin! It includes a voiceover, so make sure your audio is on. You can make it full screen using the bottom right button. Click "Start Prezi" in the center, and once it has loaded, press the play button in the bottom left. Then you can navigate through the presentation using the arrows at the bottom.

International Cooperative Principles

All cooperatives follow seven cooperative principles:


image from the National Cooperative Business Association

Co-ops are all over the world

Co-op Sectors

There are several basic types of co-ops. Some co-ops are a combination of these types.

Consumer Co-ops

Essentially, consumer co-ops are owned and governed by the consumers that buy their goods or services. Navy Federal Credit Union and REI are consumer co-ops, as are The Energy Co-op and Weavers Way Food Co-op. Housing co-ops are sometimes labelled this way as well, but at other times are considered their own sector.

Purchasing Co-ops

Similar to consumer co-ops, the members of purchasing co-ops are also using the co-op to make purchases. In the case of purchasing co-ops, however, the members are independent businesses, or even government entities, using collective buying power to procure better services and prices. These co-ops often benefit from shared marketing and branding practices, in addition to expanded purchasing power. Best Western and True Value are two well-known examples of purchasing co-ops.

Producer Co-ops

Unlike consumer and purchasing co-ops, producer co-ops are comprised of independent producers of goods or services. Common in the agriculture industry in particular, producer co-ops allow smaller producers to band together for greater ability to market and distribute their goods. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, Land O'Lakes, and The Associated Press are producer cooperatives.

Worker Co-ops

Worker co-ops are owned and governed by the employees themselves, although it is not always necessary for every employee to be an owner or only workers to be owners. Two worker co-ops in Philly are Home Care Associates, a caregiver co-op, and Childspace, a daycare worker co-op.  The largest and perhaps best known worker co-op in the world is Mondragon Corporation in Spain, which is both a worker co-op and a federation, or network, of co-ops. Stateside, the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland are using a similar model and are quickly gaining recognition and acclaim.

Watch this short documentary about worker co-ops in Philadelphia:

How the cooperative model got started

Find a co-op

Check out our page Co-ops in Philadelphia to find co-ops in our region!