bHive is a Cooperative entity, registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria. A co-operative is an incorporated body, with a board of directors who manage the business of the co-operative and are accountable to members.
When you become a member of the bHive Bendigo Co-operative Limited, you become an equal owner of bHive. Co-operatives are defined as democratic organisations controlled by their members, who each have one vote, no matter how many shares they hold. They will subscribe to the seven international co-operative principles:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training, and information
- Co-operation among co-operatives
- Concern for Community
Co-operatives focus on delivering their mission to their members, rather than maximising return to investor shareholders through profit distribution and capital growth. This means co-ops can pursue long term business plans, which can be very successful for patient members and local communities.
bHive Bendigo Co-operative Limited is a “Non-Distributing Cooperative, which means that surplus funds go toward furthering the purpose of the Co-operative. Profits are not distributed to members.
The post gold rush Bendigo economy was full of local cooperatives. We had brewing cooperatives, butter cooperatives and cheese cooperatives. The Bendigo Fruit Growers Cooperative Society began in 1889. The Bendigo Bank began as a building society, with locals seeking ways to help miners buy their own homes.
Cooperatives are now entering the digital age, with international “platform cooperatives” like Fairmondo (for selling stuff), Stocksy (stock photography), Modo (Car Sharing) and Loconomics (for Tasks).