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Celebrating Co-op Week!

By: Westman Communications
Posted: October 19, 2021 14:28Customer Experience

This Year's Theme is Embracing the Future with Co-operation

If you are wondering what Co-op Week is and why we celebrate it, we'll get to that later in this blog. For now, let's start from the beginning because aside from a few details, how many people truly know what a cooperative is and how it works?  

From grocery stores to service providers, cooperatives come in many different sizes and are integral to our economy. Let's dive deeper into the specifics of a cooperative.  

What is a cooperative? 

A co-op is an organization that is owned and democratically controlled by its Members, for its Members.  

The Members of a co-op determine how the business will run, elect the Board of Directors, and ensure the organization is following the cooperative principles - that all cooperatives share internationally.  

Cooperatives can provide nearly any product or service and can be either non-profit, or for-profit organizations. 

  

Why were cooperatives created? 

Cooperatives were created to bring people together and build a better, more sustainable world through cooperation.  

Cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.  

The main difference between a traditional business's structure and a cooperatives' structure is their priorities. A Cooperative's primary goal is to meet its membership's needs in a productive, self-sufficient, and socially responsible manner. 

 

Cooperatives Values and Principles 

The same seven principles guide all cooperatives: 

1.Voluntary and Open Membership 

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of Membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination. 

2. Democratic Member Control 

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their Members, who actively participate in setting their policies, and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the Membership. In primary cooperatives, Members have equal voting rights (one Member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner. 

3. Member Economic Participation 

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of Membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting Members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the Membership. 

4. Autonomy and Independence 

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their Members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their Members and maintain their cooperative autonomy. 

5. Education, Training, and Information 

Cooperatives provide education and training for their Members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of cooperation. 

6. Cooperation among Cooperatives 

Cooperatives serve their Members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures. 

7. Concern for Community 

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their Members. 

These values were created by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) to help cooperators run their businesses more efficiently and effectively. The Statement on the Corporate Identity values was internationally agreed upon. 

 

Main types of Cooperatives 

A growing number of people in Canada and around the world are recognizing the benefits of taking part in a cooperative. Though there are many unique cooperatives, here are the main five types you can take part in: 

  1. Consumer cooperatives: They provide their Members with goods and services for their personal use. This contains both retail cooperatives and service cooperatives.  Examples: Food, Credit Unions, housing, insurance cooperatives, etc. 

     

  2. Worker cooperatives: Members are both the employees of the business as well as owners of the cooperative.  Examples: forestry, bakeries, retail stores, tourism, etc. 

     

  3. Producer cooperatives: Some cooperatives process and market their Members' products and services directly. Other producer cooperatives may lessen costs and strain on input necessary to their Members' economic activities, with a mutual benefit for the producer. Examples: Agriculture cooperatives, advisory services, etc. 

  4. Multi-stakeholder cooperatives: The Membership of these cooperatives is made of different categories of Members who share a common interest in the organization.  Examples: home care services, health services, community services, etc. 

  5. Housing cooperatives: These types of cooperatives allow for the opportunity to share costs of home ownership or a building ownership. Examples: condominiums, rentals, etc. 

Now that you are familiar with cooperatives and what they are, we can answer your question! 

What is Co-op Week, and why do we celebrate it? 

Co-op Week is when we acknowledge the impact cooperatives have in our communities and the highlights and accomplishments they have achieved. Co-op Week is celebrated annually in the third week of October. We celebrate Co-op Week with events hosted in communities across the country to improve understanding and awareness of the cooperative business model.  

 

You now know what Co-op week is, but don't stop reading just yet! Here are a few fun facts about cooperatives and Westman Communications Group! 

Three Fun Facts About Cooperatives:  

  1. Cooperatives employ about 10% of the world's population.  
  2. There are about 9,000 Cooperatives and Credit Unions in Canada, with over 500 Cooperatives located in Manitoba.  
  3. Cooperatives exist in virtually every economic sector, from agriculture, retail and financial services to housing, childcare, funeral services and renewable energy.  

 

Three Fun Facts about Westman as a cooperative:  

  1. Westman Communications Group supports over 80+ initiatives throughout the Westman communities annually.  
  2. Every year, Westman offers an exclusive giveaway and other special offers for Members that have been with us for 5+ years.  
  3. Westman offers up to $17,000 annually in scholarships to over 30 high schools in the communities that Westman serves.  

 

Happy Co-op Week 2021 from your friends, 

Westman Communications Group Logo

 

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