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Micro Advocates Coop


by Jim Gambone, Co-founder and Vice President of Micro Advocates Cooperative.

Whether it’s because of programs and loans we don’t qualify for, the lack of recognition we receive from the traditional business environment or the day we wake up and realize that we are truly blazing our own business trail without assistance, it hits us.  While everyone thinks we’re a “small business” we know we’re not.  We are on our own in so many ways, landing our own clients, promoting our own social media pages and possibly, managing a small group of employees.

The main reason cooperatives where formed was to provide more powerful voice on economic
 factors and conditions they had little or no control over as individuals doing business.

 formed elevator, electric, and marketing coops; city micro businesses formed buying  and food coops, and other micros formed housing and long term care coops.  A coop is a registered business and it is equally owned by its members. It doesn’t have to make a large profit to survive and it can become a powerful economic force if it grows large enough.

It is also important for micro-businesses to promote cooperation amongst each other and promote cooperation as a group. Since we are not officially recognized as important by groups like the Chamber of Congress or the National Federation of Independent Businesses, forming a cooperative will give us a unique voice on issues like health insurance, access to capital and financing, taxation and other business related areas. If the cooperative becomes large enough, we can self-sure for health and business needs, and even promote our own capital and financing programs.

As a coop member, you can more easily link and interact with other cooperatives in the US and worldwide –both large like Land O Lakes, REI; ;and small, like food and other specialty coops.  We are always looking for special niches for our goods and services, and the growing number of coops will be niche many of us will want to explore.

Finally, we can act as a economically effective service provider for our members by providing a clearinghouse for micros, coupled with  workshops, directories, and webinars- all especially tailored to micro-business needs.




1. Member Equity
  • Shared ownership
  • Equal voice and vote
  • Annual Dividend 
  • Distributed Patronage – paid in cash 
  • Retained Patronage – build member equity
2. Member Return on Equity

3. The Value of Your Membership 

Greater than the financial return on your share. Being a member will help make your business more efficient and profitable, and help you lead a healthy life as a microbusiness owner.

  • Access to new markets – through group purchasing discounts ad discounts among members
  • Opportunity Differences – access to markets, anti-monopoly force, innovation
  • Price Differences – better pricing through group purchasing discounts
  • Service Differences – services by micros tailored to micros joint services
  • Information – unique access to information on micro products & services.
  • Support for micro-business advocacy – a voice, a presence, support for advocacy
  • Value of Risk Reduction – shared risk in the coop’s collaborative activities



1. Voluntary and Open Membership 
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control 
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

3. Members' Economic Participation 
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

4. Autonomy and Independence 
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. Any agreements with other organizations or external sources of capital ensure democratic control by the members and maintain the cooperative’s autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information 
Coops provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their coop, and inform the public about the nature and benefits of coops.

6. Cooperation among Cooperatives 
Coops serve their members most effectively and strengthen the coop movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7. Concern for Community 
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.

Source: The International Cooperative Alliance

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