Why The Co-op Model Matters More Today

The United States is the wealthiest country in the world. And yet today, the top 1 percent of US households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. Why? One of the major reason is that most industries have heavily consolidated. As the 3 major players in each industry claim as much 70-90% of their markets, profits are shared with an ever shrinking pool, and wealth becomes even more concentrated.

Distributed ownership as a better economic model

Co-ops offers a distributed ownership model that shares prosperity with a much broader population. Co-ops are often not well understood, but are surprisingly widespread in the U.S. economy, including businesses like REI, Ace Hardware, Ocean Spray, and Cabot. In this age of corporate consolidation where the barriers to entry have only increased, co-ops create economies of scale for economically disadvantaged groups such as women, minorities, immigrants, family businesses, and veterans. By design, co-ops bring ownership and economic power to their shareholders whether that be through shared profits, higher wages or lower costs. And by joining together, co-op members can create access to products, services or markets not otherwise available.

The power of the cooperative business model

Cooperatively owned businesses have quietly shared their profits with their member owners for decades. The cooperative model unlocks economic power from their shared ownership, contributing an estimated 2.1 million jobs and $154 billion to the nation’s economy. Satisfaction with the co-op model is higher amongst consumers and shareholders, and co-ops have a lower failure rate than other types of businesses.

HOW START.COOP WORKS