A better way forward

Explore Opportunity. Create growth.

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


Why us?

Starting and running a business takes energy, skill and commitment. Plus, the process can be complicated, confusing and frustrating. But we can help.

Contact Us

Our Process


Inspiring leadership.

Identify opportunities. Understand the model. Become a leader.



Exploring opportunity.

Explore an opportunity through our Exploring Opportunity workshop and map out the pathway to success.



Creating a new business.

Get up and running in a way that is best for you.



Helping your business thrive.

Get access to a variety of tools and resources to help ensure your business continues to grow and thrive.



Building your business.

Develop and grow your new business or organization.


We mean business.

Thoughts and success stories

Getting guidance is good practice

“[Incorporating a co-op] was a process that really was not that difficult once we had some guidance.” – Maggie Bluewaters, the Food Forest and Learning…

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6 tips for marketing your co-operative difference

A few weeks ago, Co-operative News talked to marketing leaders from the co-op sector about marketing the co-operative difference. The responses both provide insight and…

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Retail grocery is hard — but not impossible

  The retail grocery business is hard. Large upfront capital costs for space and inventory. Small margins and stiff competition. The need for marketing, procurement,…

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A Story of Many Nations

In the late 90s, Joe Carter, Director of Education for Onion Lake First Nation, recognized First Nations had similar financial services needs to their non-Indigenous…

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The Common Share Podcast

Episode 12: The Backroad Diaries, with Sisan Fregene

Aasa and Kyle are joined in this episode by Sisan Fregene, who spent the summer working on The Backroad Diaries. This Co-operatives First project uses…

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Powering Rural Infrastructure through Co-operatives

  Previously we’ve talked about the important role co-operatives might play in succession planning for rural businesses as baby boomer business owners begin to retire….

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Episode 11: Fred Khonje’s Five Lessons about Co-op Development

Fred Khonje’s career has spanned the areas of community economic development, non-profit co-op housing, co-op and social enterprise business development, housing policy development, and social…

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Episode 10: a conversation with Dr. Brett Fairbairn

A conversation on the history of co-ops. Dr. Brett Fairbairn has been researching co-operatives for over 30 years; as a Fellow at the Centre for…

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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), the organization 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 an evidence-based organization. We formed thanks to research 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. Many thanks to the rural and Indigenous communities across western Canada who supported this effort.