The main types of cooperative societies are given below:
1. Consumers cooperative societies:
Consumers' cooperatives are formed by the consumers to obtain their daily requirements at reasonable prices. Such a society buys goods directly from manufacturers and wholesalers to eliminate the profits of middlemen.
These societies protect lower and middle class people from the exploitation of profit hungry businessmen. The profits of the society are distributed among members in the ratio of purchases made by them during the year.
Consumer's cooperatives or cooperative stores are working mainly in urban areas in India. Super Bazar working under the control of Government is an example of consumers' cooperative society.
2. Producers cooperatives:
Producers or industrial cooperatives are voluntary associations of small producers and artisans who join hands to face competition and increase production. These societies are of two types.
(a) Industrial service cooperatives:
In this type, the producers work independently and sell their industrial output to the cooperative society. The society undertakes to supply raw materials, tools and machinery to the members. The output of members is marketed by the society.
(b) Manufacturing cooperatives:
In this type, producer members are treated as employees of the society and are paid wages for their work. The society provides raw material and equipment to every member.
The members produce goods at a common place or in their houses. The society sells the output in the market and its profits are distributed among the members.
3. Marketing Cooperatives:
These are voluntary associations of independent producers who want to sell their output at remunerative prices. The output of different members is pooled and sold through a centralised agency to eliminate middlemen. The sale proceeds are distributed among the members in the ratio of their outputs.
As a central sales agency, the society may also perform important marketing functions such as processing, grading and packaging the output, advertising and exporting products, warehousing and transportation, etc.
Marketing societies are set up generally by farmers, artisans and small producers who find it difficult to face competition in the market and to perform necessary marketing functions individually. The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) is an example of marketing cooperative in India.
4. Cooperative Farming Societies:
These are voluntary associations of small farmers who join together to obtain the economies of large scale farming. In India farmers are economically weak and their land-holdings are small.
In their individual capacity, they are unable to use modern tools, seeds, fertilizers, etc. They pool their lands and do farming collectively with the help of modern technology to maximum agricultural output.
5. Housing Cooperatives:
These societies are formed by low and middle income group people in urban areas to have a house of their own. Housing cooperatives are of different types. Some societies acquire land and give the plots to the members for constructing their own houses.
They also arrange loans from financial institutions and Government agencies. Other societies themselves construct houses and allot them to the members who make payment in instalments.
6. Credit Cooperatives:
These societies are formed by poor people to provide financial help and to develop the habit of savings among members. They help to protect members from exploitation of money lenders who charge exorbitant interest from borrowers.
Credit cooperatives are found in both urban and rural areas. In rural areas, agricultural credit societies provide loans to members mainly for agricultural activities. In urban areas, non-agricultural societies or urban banks offer credit facilities to the members for household needs.
In India, several national federations of cooperative societies have been formed. National Cooperative Consumers Federation, National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation, National Cooperative Dairy Federation, National Cooperative Housing Federation, All India State Cooperative Banks Federation is some examples.