On Tuesday, January 21 at 11 a.m. at the Green Door in Kimberley, those interested in co-ops will have an opportunity to learn more about what is called the “Swiss Army knife of local economies”.
The Upper Columbia Co-op Council is teaming up with the Basin Business Advisors’ Program this winter to offer Co-op 101 luncheons in Kimberley, Fernie, Invermere and Golden.
“Participants in the Co-ops 101 sessions will build an understanding of the basic structure, principles and values of co-operative enterprises, while learning about examples of thriving co-ops in a variety of sectors across the province — from the large scale international operations of Best Western Hotels, to Shift, the four-member bicycle delivery worker co-op in Vancouver,” said Zoë Creighton of the Co-op Council.
There are a number of co-ops operating in the Kootenays, from credit unions to car shares, and most of them are members of the UCCC.
“Co-op businesses creatively generate employment while enhancing economic and community development in the area. Co-op enterprises thrive in times of economic and social challenges, bridge the gap between business and people, and enable individuals to do together what they could never do alone,” said Creighton.
So what exactly is a co-op?
According to the UCCC co-operatives are jointly owned enterprises formed by people coming together to meet their needs. They are businesses that are owned and controlled by the people who use their services, and are based on ethical values and principles including self-help, democracy, equality, and concern for community.
Whether offering goods and services, or social services, co-ops share the principals of voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, autonomy and independence, education, training and information, cooperation among co-ops and concern for community.
The primary purpose of co-operatives and credit unions is to meet the common needs of their members, whereas the primary purpose of most investor-owned businesses is to maximize profit for shareholders. The primary purpose of a worker’s cooperative is to provide stable and meaningful work for its members.
If you want to learn more, plan to attend the luncheon at the Green Door on January 21. The session is free but you must pre-register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.