Co-ops are businesses and in some ways, starting a co-op is like starting any business. Where a cooperative differs is that co-ops are shaped through collective effort and group decision-making as well as a set of cooperative principles that help to guide the business. This makes the business planning more complex, but it also means the resulting corporation is stronger and more likely to succeed.

Why start a co-op?


Historically, people have created co-ops for a variety of reasons:


  • out of need to decrease the power that others hold against them in the marketplace and increase their own power
  • to provide a service that other forms of enterprise are not offering.
  • to respond to a local opportunity, or solve a challenge affecting your community/region/group
  • as a means of keeping a community or business alive
  • to provide business continuity when the owner of a small business wishes to retire (succession planning)
  • as a means of keeping profits and control of a business within the community, rather than with a large, remotely owned and operated corporation. A co-operative is owned and controlled locally. Therefore, the earnings of the co-operative stay in the community and are directed by members of the community.

Getting Started . . .


There are number of critical steps to follow if you are interested in forming a cooperative. You may already have a core group of people with whom you are working. You may already be a business but would like to convert to a cooperative structure. Perhaps you are not sure what kind of business structure you want.

The first thing you’ll want to do is contact a co-op developer to help you with the process. A co-op developer can provide information about what a co-op is and help you determine whether the cooperative model is the best fit for your group. There are a number of co-op developers who can help you depending on what type of assistance you need. Click here for a list of co-op developers from CoopZone Developers' Network Cooperative.

A series of modules have been created by the Province of Manitoba as learning tools for groups and individuals who are interested in cooperative development. From concept to final operations, these tools are designed to guide and support skills development and learning. These modules can be easily found in our resource centre by simply entering keywords Co-op Curriculum. 


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