What is a co-operative?

A co-operative is a way of organising people to achieve a goal. This model can be used to form a for-profit business or non-profit organisation. As a business model it’s versatile and, as experience has shown, functions well in every sector of the economy – from utility companies to grocery stores and global marketing firms to community gardens. More formally, a co-operative is a way to organise people, things, and processes into a legal entity. 

When did the cooperative model begin?

In 1844 the Rochdale Pioneers founded the modern Co-operative Movement in Lancashire, England, to provide an affordable alternative to poor-quality and adulterated food and provisions, using any surplus to benefit the community. Since then, the co-operative movement has flourished, extending across the globe and encompassing all sectors of economy.

How many members do you need to be to form a cooperative?

As it currently stands, forming a co-operative in Malta requires the involvement of a minimum of 5 members.

What are the seven principles of cooperatives?

The seven guiding principles of co-operatives are: Voluntary and Open Membership, Democratic Member Control, Member Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence, Education, Training and Information, Cooperation among Co-operatives, Concern for Community. You can read the seven principles in detail on this website.

Who can help me find out if the cooperative model is right for me?

Koperattivi Malta was specifically set up to assist those who wish to know more about the co-operative model. Get in touch and feel free to ask any questions. We are here to help.

What are the main advantages of being in a cooperative?

As explained throughout the information provided on this website, joining a co-operative comes with a number of benefits. Primarily, voting rights are equal for all members. The co-operative structure encourages member contribution and shared responsibility, while the liability for members is limited. There is also the fact that there is no limit on the number of members. Joining Koperattivi Malta guarantees you several benefits such as legal and accounting consultancy, office space and other advisory services. We delve deep into the benefits of joining Koperattivi Malta on our Why Koperattivi Malta page.

What are different types of co-operatives?

There isn’t one fixed number of varying cooperatives, mostly because this model of business is flexible and allows for variations. Yet, the most common types of cooperatives are worker cooperatives, producer cooperatives, financial cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, housing cooperatives and social cooperatives.

What is the main difference between a cooperative and other types of organisational structures?

What sets a cooperative apart from other types of corporations or organisations, is who the owners of the company are. While other types of corporations are owned by shareholders or stockholders, co-operatives are owned by its members or the people who use the services of the co-operative.

What are the main differences between being an employee and a member?

The main difference from being an employee in a co-operative, is that becoming a member requires financial contribution. Since the focus of coops is on building and maintaining community, most exist to meet the specific needs of their members. The opinions and votes of each member in a cooperative are treated equally.

What is a secondary/tertiary cooperative?

A secondary co-operative is one in which majority of members are themselves primary societies. A tertiary co-operative refers to a sectoral or multi-sectoral co-operative whose members are secondary co-operatives and whose objectives are to advocate and engage organs of state.

What is the Co-operatives Board?

The Co-operatives Board is responsible for the monitoring of existing co-operatives as well as the registration of all new co-operatives.


The Co-operatives Board is committed to provide professional assistance for the setting up, for promoting good governance and for the sustainability of co-operative enterprises in Malta. It seeks to promote the co-operative spirit in all sectors of society in such a way that it will foster a wider participation in the democratic process. It strives to achieve a level playing field both between co-operatives themselves and with other business entities.


The Cooperative Board can be contacted on:


(+356) 21238588

(+356) 21220115


105, Dar il-Koperattivi

Triq Melita




What is the Central Co-operative Fund?

The Central Co-operative Fund is established by law under the Co-operatives Societies Act, CAP 442 of the Laws of Malta and is regulated by the Central Co-operative Fund Regulations, 2016 (‘the Regulations’).


The Fund is entitled by article 92(3) to collect from every registered co-operative in Malta, five percent of the surplus resulting from its activities, operations, investments and any other sources at the end of each accounting period. The Fund on the other hand is required to administer the contributions in furtherance of co-operative education, training, research, and for the general development of the co-operative movement in Malta.


The Fund is governed by a Committee which is made up of eleven members. Six are independent members appointed by the responsible Minister, two members from the eligible and recognised organisations and three elected from the members of registered co-operatives


The Central Co-operative Fund can be contacted on:


[email protected]

[email protected]


The Secretary

Central Co-operative Fund

Imdina Road