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Start a Cooperative

Prior to conducting the initial market analysis, the steering committee will first meet to review the member-use analysis. Potential members have been surveyed regarding their interest in joining the proposed cooperative, anticipated business volume, and willingness to commit to their product and capital. Depending on the results, the steering committee then decides whether to proceed with the project. Following a decision to proceed, an initial market analysis is conducted to determine if the proposed cooperative has an economic role in the marketplace. This analysis will identify and examine market conditions to provide insight into appropriate activities for the cooperative, volume, facility, technological needs, and other pertinent factors. 

Resources

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A Consumer’s Guide to Buying a Co-op

In the United States, more than 1.2 million families of all income levels live in homes owned and operated through cooperative associations. Housing co-ops are not a new concept. The first housing cooperative in the nation was organized in New York City in the late 1800’s. Today, large numbers of housing co-ops are located in major urban areas such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC.

How to Start a Cooperative

When Should a Cooperative be Organized? Cooperatives are formed in response to an economic need, such as providing marketing, processing, bargaining, manufacturing, and purchasing services not currently available, or available only at excessive cost.

How To Start A Cooperative

A cooperative business is briefly described, including its structure and basic principles. Twelve steps involved in most cooperative development projects are introduced and explained. Important considerations—such as practitioner principles, pitfalls to avoid, cooperative capitalization, legal aspects of cooperative development, and general rules for success—are presented. This information should provide a reader with a comprehensive understanding of the cooperative development process.

How To Start a Cooperative

A compelling need and a few community leaders can spark the idea of forming a cooperative. Usually, these leaders have an economic need or desire a service they believe a cooperative can provide. They also know others who have similar interests. These leaders can be small business owners, manufacturers, growers, artisans, or citizens who lack, or are losing, a market for their products, satisfactory sources of production supplies, or services related to their occupation. Or they may wish to secure some other needed service or develop sources of additional income.

Cooperative Startups & Education

The cooperative form of business is a unique model that focuses on delivering needed services used by its owner-members, not on generating pro􀃖ts for investor-owners. This focus on service over pro􀃖t changes the fundamental motivations of the cooperative business, and is why this model has been extensively used all over the world to help groups of people obtain outcomes that they could not achieve individually, and to do so in a fair and equitable way. It is the only major business model that is associated with a set of internationally recognized principles and values. Properly understood, these principles provide key insights about how to powerfully and sustainably use the cooperative business model.

The Social and Solidarity Economy

Today’s challenges - unemployment, exclusion, inequality, economic shocks, poverty and global warming - oblige us to rethink the way we do business. The needs of large groups in society in industrialized as well as developing countries are neither met effectively by conventional markets nor by the state. One product of this rethinking has been the emergence of social enterprises - businesses with primarily social objectives – as part of a growing “Social and Solidarity Economy” that also includes the economic activities of community and voluntary organizations. Social and solidarity economy enterprises complement other channels of providing goods and services. This includes the reintegration of vulnerable groups into working lives and the extension of social protection.

Start A Coop UWCC

The cooperative model can be an effective way for people to meet a common set of economic or social needs. Often a cooperative is organized in response to some adversity – individual farmers face falling dairy prices, for example, or a community loses its grocery store. Instead of operating to maximize investment returns, a cooperative operates to maximize member benefit by meeting member needs in a financially sustainable way.

Tool To Start-Up A Cooperative

The success of a cooperative, both in its launch and in its continued operations, is largely determined by its members. Therefore it is important to identify the right people from the start. The core group of potential member-owners must consist of people who have similar ideas, interests and needs. They should have a mutual problem to solve or an opportunity to put to good use. These problems and/or opportunities are the basis of the business idea that would be pursued by the cooperative. The two Sessions of Module 1 guide you toward identifying the right member-owners and the best business idea for your cooperative.

Starting a Co-operative: Business Plan Template

The following document serves as a guide document only. It is an example of the questions and thought process that the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) expects prospective co-operatives to discuss prior to submitting an application for registration of a new co-operative.

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