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? Our Explore products are designed to explore an 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? 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

A catalyst for opportunity

The Mountain CoLab co-operative The nature of work is changing, and with it, the model of traditional office space. With the rise of the gig…

Read More

Podcast Episode 4: Getting People Involved in Board Governance

This episode kicks off our four-part series on co-operative governance with Co-operatives First’s Executive Director Audra Krueger. Kyle, Aasa, and Audra talk about why people…

Read More

5 ways to increase membership engagement

Most co-ops have, at some point or another, encountered difficulties getting their members involved in the organization. Low engagement can reveal itself in a variety…

Read More

What the heck is Membership Engagement

Defining member engagement for a specific organization is often tricky. It can also be hard to measure. But defining member engagement for your organization and…

Read More

Video: The Food Forest and Learning Centre Co-operative

The Food Forest and Learning Centre Co-operative Maggie Bluewaters shares a story of healing and food security in rural Saskatchewan. Our thanks to Maggie and…

Read More

Podcast Episode 3: Why we need governance

Episode 3: Why we need governance In this episode, Kyle and Aasa from Co-operatives First talk to Paul Thompson, Research Officer at the University of…

Read More

6 unique businesses that also happen to be co-ops

The co-operative business model is versatile and being used successfully in every sector of the economy. Businesses using the model bring utilities, like power, water…

Read More

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

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.