Coop Week 2018, from October 14 to 20, celebrates how cooperatives are one of the best ways that Canadians solve challenges together. Coop Week always occurs during the same week as International Credit Union Day: fitting when we consider the history of Credit Unions as the lenders of choice for the earliest coops in Canada. Many of those first coops still exist, having evolved along with Credit Unions into modern, efficient and productive businesses.
Coops today continue to adapt to challenges by working together. Battle River Power Coop, West Wetaskiwin REA and FENN REA have Communication and Billing Agreements whereby they share the expenses associated with sending bills, receiving payments and distributing newsletters. It is an arrangement that increases efficiency and is economically sound for all parties. The Alberta Federation of REAs (AFREA) supports the economic welfare and value of its cooperative members by providing professional representation to government and industry. It promotes the rural electrical coop model and sponsors workshops, facilitates networking opportunities and supports relationships that are economically beneficial to members.
Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) is a wholesaling, manufacturing, marketing and administrative cooperative that actively promotes the formation of new cooperative businesses. FCL provides funding to Co-operatives First, an organization that assists in the development and support of the cooperative business model. Its priority is increasing rural and Indigenous economic development across western Canada.
The cooperative business model is chosen for its versatility and adaptability. A coop can have few members or thousands. It can be used to cooperatively sell handcrafts, farm machinery or groceries. It can provide services like financing or power distribution and tailor them to local needs. And the best part is that profits remain in the hands of cooperative members and circulate in local communities.
Cooperation among cooperatives is part of our DNA, being one of the cooperative principles. It challenges cooperatives to use creativity and innovation and to make efficient use of resources by working together. It gives cooperative businesses an opportunity to see each other as collaborators rather than competitors and to act in the best interest of members and communities. We really do accomplish more when we work together.