Various kinds of co-operatives

Financial co-operatives

  • These co-operatives offer financial, loan or investment services, and insurance services to their members.
  • They are owned by user members or by subscribers to insurance.


  • Caisses populaires
  • Credit unions
  • Insurance co-operatives
  • Mutual companies

Retail co-operatives

  • They provide their members with goods for their personal use.
  • They are owned by the consumers of the goods sold by the co-operative.
  • They work in various sectors.
  • They range from small purchasing groups to large supermarket-type organizations.

Examples of sectors

  • Food
  • Student supplies
  • Hardware
  • Clothing
  • Outdoor recreational gear

Service co-operatives

  • They provide services to their members (individuals or corporations).
  • They are owned by the users of the services.
  • They can range in size from small day-care centers to large housing co-operatives.
  • They can represent an interesting alternative to public services delivery.

Examples of services

  • Water supply
  • Cablevision
  • Community recreation facilities
  • Electricity, natural gas and wind energy
  • Housing
  • Day-care centres and nurseries
  • Funeral services
  • Health care
  • Transportation and communication
  • Tourism
  • Municipal services
  • Community and social services

Producer co-operatives

  • Some co-ops market, or process and market, their members' products and services.
  • Others may also provide supplies or services necessary to their members' economic activities.
  • They are owned by the members who purchase or sell products and services through the co-op.

Examples of sectors

  • Agricultural processing and marketing
  • Farm supply
  • Feedlots, pastures, and pooling of equipment
  • Seed cleaning
  • Arts and crafts
  • Taxi industry
  • Government procurement
  • Fisheries

Worker co-operatives

  • The purpose of these co-operatives is to provide their members with work through a jointly owned enterprise. They may be found in all economic sectors.
  • These co-operatives are owned by their employee members, and they operate mainly in the small- or medium-sized enterprise sector.
  • In a worker co-operative, the members obtain jobs and control the management and administration of their enterprise.
  • Employees sometimes form a co-operative for the purpose of acquiring voting shares in the corporation that employs them. These are called worker shareholder co-operatives.

Examples of sectors

  • Agri-food
  • Natural food
  • Arts and entertainment
  • Manufacture and sale of clothing
  • Communications and marketing
  • Construction and renovation
  • Education
  • Forestry
  • Printing and publishing
  • Industrial production and manufacturing
  • Ambulance services
  • Business services
  • Home care and nursing services

Multi-stakeholder co-operatives

  • The membership of these co-operatives includes different categories of members who share a common interest in the organization, e.g. clients, employees, investors, and community organizations

Examples of sectors

  • Home care services
  • Health services
  • Enterprises serving disabled workers
  • Community services