A Farmer-Owned Cooperative
The Pachamama Coffee Cooperative of Small-Scale Coffee Producers is owned by thousands of family farmers around the world. Pachamama sells freshly roasted organic coffee directly to customers throughout the United States.
Cooperatives, a different way of doing business
The thousands of family farmers that co-own Pachamama Coffee are still celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives 2012! We attribute much of our success to the cooperative business model; it differentiates us from others in the specialty coffee industry. By pooling our farmers' coffee and resources, Pachamama is able to provide stable pricing and services that give hope to family farmers around the world.
You may already be familiar with the cooperative (co-op) model. There are many kinds of co-ops. They range in size from small farms to large companies. In some ways, cooperatives operate like any other business, but they also have several unique characteristics:
They are owned and democratically controlled by their members —- the people who use the co-op's services or buy its goods —- not by outside investors. They return surplus revenues to members proportionate to their use of the cooperative, not proportionate to their "investment" or ownership share. They are motivated not by profit, but by service—to meet their members' needs for affordable and high quality goods or services. They exist solely to meet the serve their members. They pay taxes on income kept within the co-op for investment and reserves. Surplus revenues from the co-op are returned to individual members who pay taxes on that income.
Types of Cooperatives
Consumer Cooperatives are owned by the people who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative. Consumer co-ops may sell consumer goods such as food or outdoors equipment, or provide housing, electricity and telecommunications. Other co-ops offer financial (credit unions), healthcare, childcare and funeral services. Almost any consumer need can be met by a cooperative.
Producer Cooperatives are owned by people who produce similar types of products — by farmers who grow crops, raise cattle, or milk cows, or by craftspersons or artisans. By banding together, cooperating producers leverage greater bargaining power with buyers. They also combine resources to more effectively market and brand their products, connecting them to customer values. Pacha Coffee is a producer co-op.
Worker Cooperatives are owned and governed by the employees of the business. They operate in all sectors of the economy and provide workers with both employment and ownership opportunities. Examples include food processing companies, employee-owned food stores, restaurants, taxicab companies, sewing companies, timber processors and light and heavy industry.
Purchasing and Shared Services Cooperatives are owned and governed by independent business owners, small municipalities and, in some cases, state governments that band together to enhance their purchasing power, lowering their costs and improving their competitiveness and ability to provide quality services. They operate in all sectors of the economy.
Why Cooperatives Form
Co-ops are formed by their members when the marketplace fails to provide needed goods or services at affordable prices and acceptable quality. They empower people to improve their quality of life and enhance their economic opportunities through mutual self-help. Throughout the world, cooperatives are providing their members with financial services, utilities, consumer goods, affordable housing, and other services that would otherwise not be available to them.
All cooperatives follow seven internationally recognized principles:
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Member Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and Independence
5. Education, Training and Information
6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
7. Concern for Community
Over 120 million people in the U.S.—two out of five—are members of an estimated 48,000 cooperatives. Worldwide, an estimated 750,000 cooperatives serve 730 million members.
Learn more about co-ops at the NCBA.