A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is a democratically controlled enterprise, that is jointly owned by an group of persons who work together to meet their common economic, social, or cultural needs and aspirations.
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Examples of cooperatives:
- non-profit community organizations;
- businesses owned and managed by the people who use their services (a consumer cooperative, for example a food co-op);
- organisations managed by the people who work there (worker cooperatives).
A cooperative is a legal entity that is owned and democratically controlled by its members. Members often have a close association with the enterprise as producers or consumers of its products or services, or as its employees.
There are specific forms of incorporation for cooperatives in some countries, e.g. Finland.
Cooperatives may take the form of companies limited by shares or by guarantee, partnerships or unincorporated associations.
A group of deaf professionals can set up a co-operative to share, for instance, interpreter services and other resources. They could work together in the same building to create a sign language friendly environment. Or they can work across the country, e.g. as independent sign language teachers, who share resources such as learning materials, maybe develop a joint website, or a joint identity and quality standards, etc.