Cooperatives: Building Something Special
Being a member of a cooperative means being part of something special. This month your cooperative, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC), celebrates National Cooperative Month, along with 40,000 other cooperative businesses that serve more than 120 million people nationwide.
“Cooperatives Build” is the theme of this year’s national commemoration and other than the obvious construction of power lines, what do cooperatives build?
Cooperatives Build Trust
Most co-ops strive to adhere to seven key cooperative principles, which combine to help build trust between the co-op, its members and the community. For example, the first principle is Voluntary and Open Membership, which means that we are a voluntary organization open to all people to use our services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership. The second principle, Democratic Member Control, gives members a voice in the cooperative’s policies and decisions through events such as Annual Meeting and annual Trustee elections.
Cooperatives Build Community
The seventh cooperative principle is Concern for Community. Co-ops work for the sustainable development of their communities through employee involvement in local organizations, through partnerships in community efforts and through support for schools. CAEC sponsors several school-related programs such as Youth Tour, Bright Ideas Grants and scholarships to help build a foundation for the future leaders of our area. CAEC employees deliver safety and efficiency demonstrations for all age groups, and CAEC partners with local entities to grow our communities.
Cooperatives Build Jobs
Growing communities occur when jobs are created, and cooperatives help build those opportunities by partnering with economic development organizations and local governments to attract companies. When cooperatives were first formed, they depended on the strength of their relationships to reach common goals together. This principle still applies today to those combined efforts that allow communities and cooperatives to work collaboratively and build jobs.
Cooperatives Build a Better World
Through service opportunities, cooperatives work to build a better world, and we extend that beyond our own borders. Opportunities provided by the National Rural Electric Association (NRECA) have allowed CAEC employees to participate in the International Program, which works to bring the power of electricity to those who have never had it. Utilizing and advancing the cooperative business model, the NRECA International Program has successfully worked in such countries as Africa, Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti and the Philippines. Since 2010, CAEC employees have worked on projects in Guatemala and Haiti.
Binding the unique and diverse attributes of cooperatives together allows the time-proven business model of member ownership and the need for flexibility that local control gives into a winning formula. While cooperatives are organizations that value the past, they are also businesses that embrace the future and work to build a better world.