What is a Consumer Co-operative?

Consumer Co-operatives are Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs) that are owned and democratically operated by consumers – the people who use or purchase from the enterprise, in accordance with the Statement on the Co-operative Identity.

They provide essential services or products that most individuals require or ‘consume’ and can be categorized accordingly.

View some types and some examples of consumer co-operatives >> 

A consumer co-op focuses on meeting the needs of its members and operates within the market system as a form of mutual aid. Some key principles of consumer co-operatives are member control and participation. These members meet periodically to develop policies/ by-laws that decide how the co-operative will operate, although in larger consumer co-ops much of the decision-making is done through the democratically elected board of directors who typically delegate to management. 


Most often, Consumer Co-ops operate in 1 of 3 different ways:

  1. As buying clubs where products and/or services are acquired only when the members place an order
  2. As service providers where members order the service i.e. internet, cable television, water or natural gas
  3. As retail stores where members (and non-members) come in to shop 


CWCF’s JEDI Business Conversion Project seeks to empower business owners and potential owners from equity-denied groups through the Social Purpose Organization (SPO) model.


For more information on this project:

JEDI Business Conversion Project

How CWCF is building on the work of the legacy leadership lab

Social Purpose Organizations


Find out:

What is a Social Purpose Organization?

What is a Social Enterprise? 

What are some examples of business conversions/social acquisitions? 

How does a business conversion work?

CWCF’s JEDI Business Conversions project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Investment Readiness Program