There are many support services available to developing co-ops to assist with all phases of start-up and development. Consulting with a co-op developer can greatly streamline the process, and facilitate greater overall success.

The Co-op Council provides a free initial consultation service for new co-ops, and can help secure funding for development support.

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The BC Co-op Association has developed a comprehensive guide to cultivating co-ops in BC, available as a free PDF: Cultivating Co-ops

The first step to starting a co-op is to bring a group of interested people together and define what need the co-op will aim to meet. Once the function of the co-op is understood, a detailed feasibility assessment should be done to determine if the co-op is viable. Developing a sound business plan and involving prospective members are essential first steps for a prospective co-op. For a more detailed checklist of this process, visit Cooperatives and Mutuals Canada on “How to Start a Co-op“.

When a group is confident they have a realistic business plan, they can apply to incorporate. In BC, these are the legal steps to incorporation:

  • Name the Co-op, and Register the Name
  • Prepare a Memorandum of the Association
  • Prepare Rules of the Association
  • Prepare a List of First Directors
  • Sign and Witness Documents
  • Prepare a Notice of Registered Office
  • Submit Documents and Fees to the BC Registrar

The Memorandum of Association and Rules of the Association lay out the legal standards and requirements of the co-op. Preparing these documents is best done under the guidance of an experienced person or professional. For detailed provincial incorporation requirements, visit the BC Provincial Government page on Cooperative Associations.

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