Some writers have defined co-operatives as an association of persons faced by the similar economic problems who voluntarily pooled their resources on the basis of equality, through joint effort and mutual participation to remedy their plight.
Others define co-operative society, as a group of persons who pool their mutual benefit.
According to Umebali and Mgbada (1997:214), a co-operative society is a group of persons, who have pooled themselves and their resources on self-help, mutual, equitable and democratic basis to form a business enterprise which seeks to solve the socio-economic problems of its members by directly providing them with goods and services in their double capacity as either owners/customers or owners/workers of the co-operative enterprise.
The international Co-operative Alliance defined a co-operative society as an association of persons who have voluntarily joined together to achieve a common goal through the formation of a democratically controlled organization making equitable contributions to the capital required and accepting fair share of the risks and benefits of the undertaking in which members actively participate.
It is also defined as a form of business organization where some group of persons voluntarily associate together as human beings on a basis of equality for the promotion of the economic interests of themselves.
ORIGIN OF CO-OPERATIVES:
Co-operative movement started first in Rochdale, England on the 15th August, 1844 by 28 weavers, comprising 26males and 2 females.
This movement was formed as a result of the agrarian and industrial revolution which occurred in England during which period drastic changes took place in agriculture, industry and commerce. To overcome some of the hardship prevalent during that period, these 28 weavers formed the first co-operative society known as the "Equitable Pioneers of Rochdale". Since then, thousands of co-operative societies have been formed in many countries of the world.