Co-operatives First - Co-op Creator

Resource site provides A to Z details of starting and running a co-op

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Dan Mathews

Starting up a co-op can be a rather onerous challenge.

But a resource site titled Co-op Creator, which was launched earlier this year, is helping make that task a little bit easier.

The site, which can be accessed for free at, is managed and maintained by officials from Co-operatives First, a Saskatoon-based organization whose mandate includes to help Indigenous and rural communities prosper.

“In the co-op sector there’s nothing out there like it,” Dan Matthews, the manager of strategy and communications for Co-operatives First said of the Co-op Creator site. “It’s definitely unique.”

The site includes information on whether the co-op model is the best route to take, incorporating, business planning and financing.

“We wanted to have from A to Z how to start and get a co-op up and running,” Matthews said. “That was the driving force behind this.”

Thus far there have been glowing reviews about the site.

“There’s been really a very positive response from the co-op sector and those that have been using it,” Matthews said.

Co-operatives First officials are also pleased with the number of individuals who are accessing their site.

“We probably have 20 users a day,” Matthews said. “It’s a pretty niche thing. Having 20 (visitors) a day is pretty good for now.”

Though there is tons of information available on the site covering various topics, Matthews himself finds a particular resource extremely useful.

“The part I really like is the tool which can be useful to any entrepreneur – it’s the part of the site where you can log in and register an account,” he said. “Then you can build your own business plan.”

Yes, this resource can also be found in countless other places online.

“This is not quite as unique a tool,” Matthews said. “Others have it. Largely though people really like how clear it is.”

Matthews added starting a co-op from scratch can indeed be a complicated process. For examples, by-laws need to be established on how it will operate. Shareholders (also known as members) need to be sought to provide funding. And the governance of the co-op, through a board of directors, has to be identified and selected.

The Co-op Creator site provides detailed information on all these topics as well as others in an easy-to-read format.

The site also includes videos on the reasoning why incorporation is necessary, articles and by-laws and how to choose a suitable name for the co-op.

Though some entrepreneurs might believe in getting things done on their own, Co-Operatives First officials believe there is nothing wrong with getting some free guidance from their site.

For example, the Co-Op Creator offers advice on what to do and what to expect once encountering regulatory barriers, which might occur when filling out paperwork to get incorporated.

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