The Seven Principles: A lesson in co-operation
Suma visits Rochdale Pioneers Museum
A trip to the birthplace of the co-operative movement inspires us to revisit our founding principles
As part of our ongoing mission to champion the co-operative cause, a few of us from Suma paid a visit to the Rochdale Pioneers Museum Regarded as the birthplace of the modern co-operative movement, the museum is located on the site where, on 21 December 1844, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society opened their store selling food at fair prices and honest weights and measures.
The Pioneers set up the first successful co-operative in response to the very poor trading conditions at the time. 28 men got together and decide that enough was enough, and they were going to do something about it. What began as a small shop soon became a huge enterprise owning houses, factories and mills… the co-operative world had well and truly been born!
The seven principles
(Image courtesy of Willy Street Coop )
The Pioneers developed a set of seven principles to guide them. A modernised version of these is still widely in use today; it is the go-to resource for fledgling and established co-ops and is endorsed by the International Co-operative Alliance
These principles outline what it is that sets co-operatives apart from other types of business. By definition a co-operative is a business which is owned and run by its members, rather than by investors… but it’s clear from examining these principles that there’s much more to it than that!
As members of this international community, co-ops take their place within a vast support network of democratically run businesses and can benefit from the experiences and knowledge of other co-ops. We’ve experienced this solidarity at Suma by taking part in various knowledge-sharing forums organised by Co-ops UK , and inviting other co-ops to visit Suma HQ and see how we manage our business. We’ve even visited Kuapa Kokoo, a Ghanaian cooperative that produce cocoa for Divine, to see what co-ops on different continents can learn from each other! This collaborative ethos is what truly sets co-ops apart and helps to build more adaptable, productive and resilient businesses.
The Pioneers Museum gave us a real insight into the history of the co-operative movement and really brought the story to life, reminding us what it really means to be part of this amazing global movement.