What is a consumer cooperative?
A consumer cooperative is a business model that is owned and controlled by its members; where the members are the consumers of the cooperative’s products or services, and its main goal is to provide quality products or services to its members at fair prices. Consumer cooperatives aim to operate in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner. Members pool their resources to finance and operate the cooperative and all profits are shared. Cooperatives operate under a democratic decision making process which ensures that it is run in the interests of its members rather than outside investors. Common examples of consumer cooperatives are grocery stores, credit unions, and healthcare cooperatives.
How do I establish a consumer cooperative in Florida?
The potential cooperative must develop a business plan outlining its structure, operation and finances. The cooperative also must choose a name that is not in use by another business in Florida. The members must draft articles of incorporation for the cooperative with its name, structure, and the addresses of the founding members which is then filed with the Florida Division of Corporations. The cooperative needs an employer identification number (EIN) for tax purposes. The cooperative will also need to draft bylaws to govern the cooperative and will need to hold an organizational meeting to adopt the bylaws, elect officers, and approve other necessary actions. Finally, the cooperative must obtain any necessary permits and licenses.
What are some requirements for a consumer cooperative in Florida?
The Florida Cooperative Association Act provides the legal framework for the creation and operation of cooperatives. A cooperative in Florida must have at least three members. Members of the cooperative are not required to be U.S. citizens as long as they meet the eligibility criteria in the cooperative’s articles of incorporation and bylaws. Other specific requirements and regulations can vary depending on the type of cooperative and the activities in which it engages.
What agreements are needed to establish a cooperative?
Cooperatives typically have several agreements to establish their legal and operational framework. The Articles of Incorporation establish the cooperative as a legal entity in Florida. The Bylaws are the rules and procedures for the cooperative’s operations and include topics such as membership requirements, voting, and the responsibilities of the board of directors. The membership agreement outlines the rights and responsibilities of the cooperative’s members including the terms of membership and expectations for member participation.
What Florida laws address cooperatives?
The Florida Cooperative Association Act governs the creation and operation of cooperatives. The act has guidelines for the formation and operation of cooperatives which includes the requirements for the articles of incorporation and bylaws. A cooperative must have a board of directors which manages the affairs of the cooperative and makes decisions on behalf of the members. The board’s responsibilities and duties are specified under this act as well as the requirements for the board’s election, terms of office, and the director replacement. The act specifies that to be eligible for membership in the cooperative, that potential members must meet the requirements in the cooperative’s articles of incorporation and bylaws. Rules for conducting meetings and voting procedures are addressed in the act. Members must meet at least once a year and there are requirements for voting procedures, notice of the meeting and how many members must be present. Additionally, under the act a cooperative must keep financial records and prepare annual financial statements. Finally, there are procedures for resolving disputes between members and the cooperative providing that disputes can be resolved through mediation, arbitration, or another method which must be specified in the bylaws.