At least one-sixth of humanity belongs to cooperative institutions. The origins of the cooperative and mutual are shared globally, and they are born out of crisis to help people when formal systems fail. Yet, a global history of cooperatives is missing. Cooperatives are defined as autonomous associations of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise, and they are guided by a set of seven principles that make them distinct from commercial firms. Mutuals are distinct in that a large proportion of the business should be owned by either employee and/or the local community. Both cooperatives and mutuals have contributed to a distinct economic model that prioritizes people over profit and has value in every corner of the world.

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