Co-ops build a better world. These are not Thrive’s sentiments, but the words of the United Nations which declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives . The UN notes that cooperatives “promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people…and contribute to the eradication of poverty.”
Why would the United Nations make such a bold statement and why are cooperatives so integral to community economic resiliency? This article gives an overview of what co-ops are, why they are still worth celebrating as we move in to 2013 are and why you would want to buy a membership.
What are co-ops?
Co-ops are essentially people that pool their resources for a common goal. They exist to serve their members instead of shareholders. Members may be customers, employees, workers or residents. There are numerous types of cooperatives, including those for:
- child care
- finances (such as credit unions)
How do individuals benefit?
Co-ops share their profits with members. They are democratically owned and operated. Members vote and join in decision making. Training and learning opportunities are extended to members.
How does business benefit?
You may be familiar with some cooperatives in Calgary such as First Calgary Financial, Mountain Equipment Co-op and the Calgary Co-op grocery stores. These three resilient examples show how co-operatives (and building community good) can be good for business. In fact, recent research in Alberta noted that that three year survival rates for co‐ops was 82% compared to 48% for conventional firms.
How do communities benefit?
Co-ops have been building local economies and communities for hundreds of years. They do so by:
- creating local jobs
- demonstrating care for the planet and people, as well as profits
- investing in their communities through sponsorship and support for community initiatives
Last year, credit unions returned $81 million in scholarships and sponsorship compared to $54 million on average for Canadian banks as reported in the Globe and Mail.
Buy a better world
Buy a membership to a co-op and build a better community and world. Co-ops contribute to a more thriving local economy for all. Explore some local co-ops listed here or learn more from any of the links below.
- ArtsCan Cooperative for Artists
- Calgary Car Share
- Canadian Workers Co-operative Federation
- First Calgary Financial
- Oiko Credit
- Sunnyhill Housing Cooperative
- The Calgary Co-op Memorial Society