Co-operative development is the art and science of helping co-operatives start and grow their enterprises. On Co-op supports the creation, development, funding and enhancement of forming, newly-formed and existing Ontario co-operatives and credit unions through a variety of programs.
Why Work With A Co-op Developer?
Carrying out an effective co-op development process is crucial for the success of forming, newly-formed or existing co-operatives. It requires a broad set of skills, knowledge and experience. For most new co-operative entrepreneurs, although they have the vision of what they want their new co-op to accomplish, they often lack some of the required knowledge and experience to move the project forward. Filling this knowledge and experience gap is how an experienced Co-op Developer can be of great assistance. On Co-op can provide forming and existing co-ops with advice, and works with co-op development professionals across the provinces with a wide variety of skillsets.
Choosing the right developer is very important for your group. As with any professional service arrangement you must satisfy yourself that the developer has the knowledge and skills you are seeking. Beyond assessing their skills you also must be comfortable on a personal level with the developer, as you will be working very closely with the developer. In choosing a developer it is always good to ask them for references so that you can talk with others who have worked with them.
Lastly be sure to spend time up front with the developer to identify what needs you have, the approach the developer will use to assist you, the timeline for the work and of course what it will cost.
The co-operative business model is unique, and is often governed by legislation unique from other types of business enterprise . It is important that those in your professional support network have experience with the co-operative business enterprise model - your own lawyer, business development office or accountant may not.
- Phone and Email Support
- Development Resources
- Co-operative Developers
- Member, Staff and Board Training
- Technical Assistance Funding
- Co-operative Funders
- Networking and Sharing
Phone and Email Support
Do you want to know if the co-op model is the right one for your business idea? Do you need tools to effectively govern your new co-operative? Do you want some pointers on how to expand, change, or revitalize your established co-operative?
On Co-op can help! Our staff can provide solutions, referrals and connections to resources that can assist you. You can also make an appointment to speak with our co-op development staff to work through your idea and get answers to detailed questions that can help you plan out your next steps. You will find a brief advisory services application form under "downloads" at the right of this page-- filling it out and submitting it prior to your appointment will save you valuable time and money. If your legal and financial advisors have not worked closely with a co-op in the past, they may not be aware of the options available to you as a co-operative business enterprise, so be sure to talk to On Co-op in addition to your own advisors.
Here is a list of lawyers that are familiar with the co-operative business enterprise model. http://coopzone.coop/en/legal_network/members/private_practice
To help your co-op grow, On Co-op has developed a variety of tools and documents.
- Our series of FactSheets include a wide range of information: fundamental lessons on the co-op model, detailed information on co-operative issues such as audits and directors' liability, and information on specific portions of the co-op sector such as child care and renewable energy are all included. Download the series from the 'For More Information' link at the bottom of this page or download a document containing the list of all titles in the co-op Factsheet series from the 'Related Documents' area at the right.
- On Co-op has created a plain-language Guide to the Co-operative Corporations Act to help you navigate the legal side of running a co-op. This comprehensive document should be in every forming and existing co-op's toolkit.
- On Co-op's series of presentations provide valuable information on a variety of subjects.
- Resources for initial co-op development can be found on our Starting a Co-op page.
- Our co-op resources library includes any number of other helpful documents, and can be searched by keyword, document type or strategic area. Many of those documents do not appear elsewhere on the On Co-op site!
Contact our Co-op Development Manager using the contact information at the bottom of this page for information on these or other resources.
On Co-op is part of the national CoopZone Developers' Network Co-op. CoopZone links those co-ops requiring development expertise with people and organizations who have the skills and the understanding to provide co-operative development. Anyone considering utilizng the co-operative business enterprise model should talk to On Co-op or a recognized co-operative developer before finalizing their co-op plans.
Here is a list of co-op developers who work with Coop Zone: http://coopzone.coop/en/members/7,6,8
Member, Staff and Board Training
Does your organization need training or development in areas such as board relations, strategic planning, member engagement, running effective meetings, or even Co-ops 101? On Co-op can provide customized sessions on a fee-for-service basis in many areas relating to co-operatives, democracy and good governance. On Co-op can also facilitate meetings, source speakers and help to plan conferences. Member organizations receive a discount. Contact us with your request.
Technical Assistance Funding (currently inactive)
In past years, On Co-op to manage a small technical assistance funding program that gave co-ops access to the specialized help of consultants in order to start or grow their co-operative. This funding program originated with the Co-operative Development Initiative which was created in 2003 to focus on advisory services, innovations and research. In 2012, the program was terminated. On Co-op is currently attempting to re-establish consistent funding for future technical assistance from alternative sources.
Co-op funders and financers are important partners in the development of co-operatives. On Co-op, maintains a List of Co-op Funders and Financers.
More information on the CoopZone website: http://coopzone.coop/en/financing
Networking and Sharing
As an association, one of On Co-op's key objectives is to bring together co-operatives from across the province - bringing together small and large, newly-formed and decades in existence, from across the road and across the province.
Often the feeling of isolation is strongest with emerging, new or smaller co-ops. Through membership in On Co-op, co-ops have unparallelled access to our resources, staffing, marketing, government relations and our other members. On Co-op also promotes co-ops and credit unions to the rest of the sector, public policy makers and to the general public.