A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. Cooperative enterprises exist in all sectors of the economy and employment in or within the scope of cooperatives is estimated at a minimum of 279 million people across the globe. While cooperatives are businesses, they advance both economic and social benefits for their members, and are driven by internationally agreed cooperative principles and values. Cooperatives are acknowledged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a means of implementation along with other private sector businesses.

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