SASKATOON — Business development organization Co-operatives First is again giving away $15,000 in business start-up support to celebrate Small Business Week and Co-op Week.

Starting October 16th 2023, groups of prospective entrepreneurs can pitch their idea for a co-operative business and be entered to win Co-operatives First’s full suite of support, including business coaching, incorporation, board training, communications training, and more.

To enter, groups need to provide Co-operatives First with a short, written pitch on their business idea. The business must be a good fit for the co-operative model, meaning at least three people or parties must be involved in the project.

“The co-operative model is a versatile way of doing business that can make a big impact on communities,” said Co-operatives First Executive Director Audra Krueger. “We’ve helped groups to start everything from childcare and housing co-operatives to artist, ag producer, and investment co-ops.”

Additionally, signing up for Co-operatives First’s Introduction to Co-operatives online course between October 16th and November 16th will enter you in a draw to win a $100 Co-op gift card. This free online training is a self-directed boot camp for collaborating entrepreneurs unfamiliar with the co-operative model.

“The Intro to Co-ops course is designed to help entrepreneurs organize their new business,” said Krueger. “If you want to pitch us a business but want a better understanding of the co-op model first, this free training is a great place to start.”

To learn more about the contest and online course, visit


Aasa Marshall, Director of Communications



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 business coaching, 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.

“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