Helping rural & Indigenous communities grow & thrive.

Capturing Opportunity. Creating growth.

Opportunities are often hidden in plain sight or disguised as deficits. Capturing an opportunity requires inspiration, recognition, innovation and the courage to see things a bit differently.

At Co-operatives First, we support leaders looking to capture opportunities, inspire others and realize their visions.

Why Co-operatives First?

A co-operative is a business and requires the same level of energy, skill and commitment as any other business. Starting and building a business can be complicated, confusing and frustrating. But we’re here to assist with that process.

Plus, we provide this service at no cost.

Contact Us

Our Process


Inspiring your community.

Looking for inspiration? Our Inspire products are designed to help community leaders identify opportunities. If you’re hoping to encourage economic, business or community development, take a quick look at our Inspire products.



Exploring an opportunity.

Have a specific opportunity to explore? Explore this opportunity with us. Our Explore products are designed to tease out the best way to take advantage of the opportunity and map out the pathway to creating a new business or organization.



Creating a co-operative business.

Looking to incorporate a new business or organization? Getting past the bureaucratic tape and understanding the proper steps to take can be frustrating and intimidating. Our Create products focus on getting you up and running in a way that is best for you.



Helping your business thrive.

On the board or managing an existing co-operative? Our Thrive products offer a variety of tools and resources to help ensure your business continues to grow and thrive.



Building your business.

Our Build products are designed specifically to support you as you develop and grow your new business or organization..


Co-operatives First means business.

Thoughts and success stories

Trust, Technology and Credit Unions: an interview with Eric Dillon

“Trust is perhaps the single most important underlying element of running a financial cooperative.” Eric Dillon, CEO Conexus Credit Union Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, and…

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3 Co-operative Options for the Financial Sector

The Co-operatives First team is regularly asked “what is a co-operative?” and many of our posts display various uses of the co-operative model to explore…

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Finding opportunity for self-determination in a “digital divide”

In today’s world, there’s no getting around it: socially and economically, communities need reliable, high-capacity internet, no matter how small or remote they are. Governments…

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3 themes in Budget 2018 impacting Canadians today

The federal government has released its budget for fiscal year 2018, Equality and Growth: A Strong Middle Class. While many commentators, pundits, and partisans focus…

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Why diverse boards are rare and what to do about it

On a board of directors? At your next meeting, take a look around the table. Does everyone look and sound similar to you? If so,…

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5 to-dos when planning an AGM

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – AGM season! Co-operatives and credit unions will soon be issuing notices to shareholders and members of…

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How to become the most connected community in Canada

You might not expect to find the country’s best internet in a rural setting, but folks in Olds, Alberta play by their own rules. Nominated…

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Sex, succession and the co-op model

It’s Valentine’s Day. For some folks, this means a great deal. Others (no judgement) let it pass without bothering to note its peculiar significance in…

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A forward-thinking initiative

Thanks to the generosity, support and forward thinking of the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS) and Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), Co-operatives First was launched in 2016.

Our goal is to initiate a new wave of co-operative business development across rural and Indigenous communities across western Canada.

Innovation based on research

Co-operatives First is based on research conducted with the help and support of rural and Indigenous communities across western Canada, funded by Federated Co-operatives Limited(FCL) and undertaken by a group of researchers from the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives at the University of Saskatchewan.