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Cooperating is the best kind of sharing: co-ops and the sharing economy

By | Cooperatives Work, Sharing Economy, Social Enterprise, Social Impact | 3 Comments


Cooperating is the best kind of sharing

I think cooperating is the best kind of sharing. And sharing has been all the rage lately, with the meteoric rise of the “sharing economy,” which seems to encompass everything from AirBNB to couchsurfing to tool sharing to car sharing.

That meteoric rise of the sharing economy is really, really exciting. Since 2008, when the economy took a major stumble, people have been coming to the understanding that the economy isn’t going to benefit everyone the same way, and that sometimes the best way to make things better is to do things differently. That’s where the increased interest in the sharing economy comes from, really: the realization that we need to do business differently, and build a different economy, if we want it to be more fair, more inclusive, and better.

So when we discuss the sharing economy and cooperatives, I think the discussion starts to get really interesting. I think cooperation is the best kind of sharing, and this is important because there is no clear definition of just what the sharing economy actually is – and that runs the risk of dilution into meaninglessness.

Cooperating enables people to build shared resources and co-own them. Cooperation is an ownership model and a business model. It’s different from sharing as you might currently see in the sharing economy, but I think that cooperatives can and should lead the sharing economy. Read More

A Cooperative Taxonomy: Building on the Strength of Community

By | Cooperatives Work, Social Enterprise | 5 Comments

The Cooperative Structure is StrongBuild on the strength of community with cooperatives

By now, you’ve probably seen on our site here that we’re a worker cooperative, which is a special kind of an organization. When you think about starting a business or organization, you have a number of different choices in what kind of form that an organization might take – and we chose cooperative for some solid reasons.

Importantly, we chose to build a cooperative to build on the strength of community. Co-ops, as organizations, are designed to build on the strength of community – they come out of communities, they meet community needs, and they do so through cooperative methods. You can’t build a co-op without a strong community.

Cooperatives are also strong organizations by design. When we draw what a co-op looks like – like the diagram above – we draw it in a triangle, because triangles are the strongest geometric shape. The strength of communities make co-ops the strongest kinds of organizations, too.

Here, I want to take you through the basic structure of a cooperative, and introduce you to the four main kinds of cooperatives. That way, you can learn about the different kinds of co-ops, and you can think about how you can build on the strength of community in your social enterprise. Read More

We Need Cooperatives Now More Than Ever: A Reaction to BC’s 2015 Budget

By | Cooperatives Work, Government Relations | No Comments

Provincial policy could make an impact if it engaged cooperatives

Every year, the Province of British Columbia creates a budget – just like Thumbnail_BudgetSpeechevery other jurisdiction in Canada. And each year, when the Province creates its budget, it sketches out its policy priorities for the coming year.

This year, we were disappointed to find that the Province of British Columbia did not create policy opportunities to support cooperatives and community economic development in the budget. We need cooperatives now, more than ever, and we need the Province to support their impact in communities. In reading the Province’s budget, it’s our view that there are a number of places where government could invite cooperatives into their plans and projects and make real community impacts that have a long-lasting effect.

Since the economic crisis in 2008, British Columbians and Canadians want to find ways to support their local economies rather than subsidizing businesses that move that value out of communities and out of Canada. Cooperatives are a prime and valuable way to do that. If the Province of BC were to bring cooperatives into their planning, we’d make an impact.

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Community Investment Co-ops: putting your money to work locally

By | Cooperatives Work, Impact Investing, Social Enterprise, Social Impact | 2 Comments

Wind farms, coffee roasters, chocolates, and community investment co-opsJust Us! Coffee Roasters is a worker co-op supported by a community investment co-op

What do RRSPs, tax credits, wind farms, coffee roasters, and chocolates have in common? Well, in Nova Scotia, they’re all interrelated – and each one supports the other in powerful ways. In fact, Nova Scotia is leading Canada in doing something that the rest of the country should be doing – putting money to work locally. We can start in BC by building community investment cooperatives. Here’s how, and why. Read More

Incipe: Starting Our Co-op – Part 1

By | Cooperatives Work, Dare to Know: Sharing Research and Ideas | No Comments

Thinking of starting a co-op? Awesome.

Starting a co-op can be exciting and challenging, all at the same time.  That’s absolutely what we here at the Incipe Cooperative found when we started thinking about how we could work together on a common project for common benefit.  The excitement came from the combination of energy, passion, and ideas for a project that we could work together on, and the challenge came from the adventures in properly filling out the paperwork and sending in to the BC Corporate registry.

Incipe principal Kevin Harding is blogging our experiences in starting a cooperative enterprise in a series of posts. You can read the whole series here:

Here’s our story of how we did it.

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