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Founding a company in Switzerland: Cooperative Company

Updated: Jul 10

A cooperative in Switzerland is a legal organisational form where members collectively pursue economic or social goals, with each member having equal voting rights regardless of their capital contribution. Examples include major retail companies like Migros and Coop, as well as housing and agricultural cooperatives.

How to start a Limited Partnership
Cooperative Company

A cooperative in Switzerland is a legal organisational form where several individuals or companies come together to achieve common economic or social goals. The cooperative is regulated by the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO), particularly in Art. 828-926 OR

Key Features of a Cooperative:

  1. Collective Purpose: Cooperatives primarily pursue a collective purpose, often of an economic, social, or cultural nature. The aim is to promote the shared interests of the members.

  2. Member Participation: Members of a cooperative are both owners and users of the services or products provided by the cooperative. Each member typically has one vote, regardless of the amount of capital they have contributed.

  3. Self-Administration: The cooperative is self-managed by its members. Major decisions are made in the general assembly, where all members have voting rights.

  4. Capital and Liability: The capital of the cooperative is provided by the contributions of its members. Members' liability is generally limited to the cooperative’s assets unless otherwise specified in the statutes.

  5. Statutes: The cooperative must have statutes that define its purpose, membership conditions, organization, and administration.

  6. Legal Form and Registration: A cooperative gains legal capacity by being registered in the cooperative register. From that point on, it is considered a legal entity.

Advantages of a Cooperative:

  • Democratic Structure: Each person has equal voting rights regardless of their financial contribution.

  • Member Orientation: The focus is on the needs of the members rather than on profit maximization.

  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Cooperatives can more easily adapt to changing economic or social conditions.

Examples of Cooperatives in Switzerland:

  • Migros and Coop: Two of the largest retail companies in Switzerland are cooperatives.

  • Housing Cooperatives: These provide affordable housing to their members.

  • Agricultural Cooperatives: These support farmers in marketing their products and obtaining supplies.

Cooperatives play an important role in the Swiss economy and society, as they promote a collective form of self-help and collaboration. Detailed information can be found at SME Portal for small and medium-sized entreprises


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