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

How newcomers are using co-ops to succeed in Canada

For newcomers, barriers to well-being can be bigger and more complex than for much of the Canadian-born population. Newcomers often experience isolation when they arrive…

Read More

New Podcast: What makes a co-op?

In this episode, Kyle, Dan, and Aasa discuss the different definitions of co-operatives, the seven co-operative principles, and the ways co-ops are different from other…

Read More

8 To-Dos When Naming a Co-operative

Coming up with a name for your co-operative can be one of the more enjoyable parts of the ‘noinky bits’ of incorporating a co-operative. The…

Read More

Introducing The Common Share Podcast

In this episode, we interview Kyle White, Education and Engagement Lead for Co-operatives First, to discuss the purpose of the podcast, what his role is…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.