The Seventh Cooperative Principle


The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) has established seven principles as guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.


The Seventh Principle is Concern for Community

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

  Cooperatives have a relationship with their communities that is not limited to mere business economics.  Cooperatives are open to the members of a community (or multiple communities) and exist for the purpose of helping those individuals help themselves.  Coops are inherently local.  They are part of a specific, local community from which they draw members and within which they operate.  “Sustainable development” is key – coops cannot afford to operate in an extractive or destructive fashion upon the community they exist within.  Conversely, when we observe a business extracting resources and profit from a community in a solely one-way direction, we may conclude that such a business is not part of the community.

Just as a cooperative’s relationship to its community is more than economics, so does sustainable development concern more than economics.  To truly be sustainable, sustainable development must include social, environmental and economic considerations.  Such development must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Take note that the principle highlights the democratic processes inherent in cooperatives: “through policies approved by their members.”  It is ultimately the coop members who must decide to what degree, and in what manner, the cooperative will be concerned with the community.

Staying grounded in the local community will help deter a coop from the excesses and exploitations that commonly afflict investor-owned companies, as the interests of the coop will be the interests of the members which will be the interests of the community. 


We believe that structures implement principles. Thoughtful and considered formation, or re-formation, of your business can give you bylaws, agreements, contracts, and policies that can place these values at the core of your organization, not just an afterthought.

How does your business support the sustainable development of your community?