March 31, 2022

Micro-Learning Course Launched with a Pitch Contest for $15,000 in Business Support

SASKATOON – Business development organization, Co-operatives First, is pleased to announce the launch of a new business development micro-learning course and pitch contest for start-up co-operatives.

This free online training called Introduction to Co-operatives is a self-directed bootcamp for collaborating entrepreneurs unfamiliar with the co-operative legal structure.

“We’ve designed the course to help entrepreneurs organize their new business,” says Audra Krueger, Executive Director for Co-operatives First. “So, it’s a guide for taking a business idea from sketches on a whiteboard to investment readiness, but it’s also a crash course on the co-operative model.”

Designed for busy go-getters, the course is available in bite-sized, video-based parts so that people who take it can learn on the run. To celebrate the launch of this modular, self-paced, and free course, the organization is also hosting a pitch contest.

“Throughout April, we’re accepting pitches for start-up co-operatives,” said Krueger. “If you’re teaming up on a start-up, this is your opportunity to win $15,000 worth of start-up support.”

To enter, groups need to provide the organization with a short, written pitch of their business idea. The prize package includes organizational design, feasibility, or business planning, plus incorporation and board governance training. The contest is open to start-up co-ops throughout western Canada.

To learn more about the course and pitch contest, visit



Dan Matthews
Manager, Strategy and Communications for Co-operatives First


Co-operatives First is a non-profit organization funded by Federated Co-operatives Limited and the Co-operative Retailing System. Founded in 2015, the organization provides co-op start-up resources, such as feasibility studies, business plans, online courses, and incorporation support to rural and Indigenous entrepreneurs across western Canada. Our goal is to help leaders in these communities build new businesses, grow local economies, and support community development.


financial planning

The Co-operatives First Team – photo by David Stobbe

Audra Krueger, Executive Director for Co-operatives First / Photo by David Stobbe

“Heather and the team at Co-operatives First are top-notch. Not only their knowledge but their understanding of the project. They have truly helped us along every step of the way. Their timely response and knowledge of the steps are extraordinary. They are forthcoming with information. This is one of the most knowledgeable and friendliest teams I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Weyburn Theatre

“Co-operatives First made the process of establishing our Artisan Co-operative a very clear and easy process. The expanse of available tools and resources provided by Co-operatives First answers many questions and lightens the workload. Greatly appreciate having the connections made with Trista and Kyle, they keep the co-operative moving forward.”

Nehiyawaskiy Indigenous Peoples Art Co-op

“Our experience working with the Co-operatives First team was absolutely fabulous. The staff was accommodating, knowledgeable and patient. It was truly a breath of fresh air to have such a wealth of skill and resources available to a non-profit. They were invaluable to our successful launch!”

Heart Linked Community Services Cooperative

“Working with Co-operatives First was fantastic! We are still new to the cooperative world, and we relied heavily on their advice and expertise when drafting our rules/bylaws, and our memorandum of association. The team has experience with many different cooperative models, so they provided advice on what has and hasn’t worked for other cooperatives. We wouldn’t have been able to incorporate without their help!”

Ananda Cooperative

“We have had a very positive experience with everyone at Co-operatives First. They have helped us in multiple ways. Right from the first step in knowing how to incorporate, how to set our business and offering ideas for us to help steer us in the right direction plus allowing us to really make our own decisions. If our decisions go off track, they have gently guided us back to where we needed to be. The Co-operatives first guys are always eager to answer questions, and give ideas to us that got us off the ground.”

South East Butcher Block