Working together – Cooperatives

Dec 1st, 2018

A recent study done in Quebec found that the 5 year succes rate for new cooperatives is 62% compared to 35% for other new

What is a Cooperative?

Simply put, a cooperative is member-owned business enterprise where people work together to meet a common need. While they can differ in their setup, and may be either for-profit or not-for-profit, all cooperatives are democratic by nature. This means that every member of the co-op has an equal voice in how the enterprise will be run and how any resources or resulting capital will be allocated. A successful co-op is dependent on the commitment of its members to its ongoing process and can be formed by any group of 3 or more people who are at least 18 years of age and not currently under bankruptcy proceedings.

Why Choose to Start a Cooperative?

There are many benefits to starting a coop instead of a more traditional business. The primary being, the enterprise is owned and controlled by its members and not investors who have little to no direct involvement. This sense of shared ownership leads to better decision making, increased efficiency, more active worker engagement and overall satisfaction. The shared nature of a coop helps prevent small groups or individuals from taking control and any resulting capital is distributed proportionally back to the members. Because the members are also owners, there is increased job security, as well as, long term potential for growth and sustainability. If one member leaves the coop, it does not necessarily mean the demise of the enterprise. The remaining members can choose to re-structure or add new members as needed.


Cooperatives can be take on several different formats.  A few of the more common types of coops are:

Worker Co-ops

provide work for their members through the operation of the enterprise.

  • Skills, experience and interests are combined and any assets are owned by the co-op
    eg) production, manufacturing


Producer Co-ops

  • members work together, producing or marketing services directly, to meet a common need
    eg) farmers, artisans


Consumer Co-ops

  • serve the needs of their
    members by providing goods and services for their own use
    eg) food, childcare


In Canada, Manitoba has the second highest number of
cooperatives with 400+ enterprises representing nearly every sector of the economy !



Developed by the International Cooperative Alliance, co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
every coop operates according to the following values:

1. Membership is voluntary and open to the public
2. Control of the cooperative is democratic , every member has one vote
3. Members contribute to the capital of the cooperative
4. Cooperatives are member-controlled, autonomy must be maintained when working with outside organizations
5. Members will be provided any necessary education and training to ensure that they are able to participate fully in the cooperative
6. The strength of the cooperative is increased by working together with other cooperatives
7. Although the primary focus of a cooperative is to focus on the needs of its membership, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of
communities through policies and programs accepted by the members