CoopZone Developers' Network Co-operative

Spring 2015 Newsletter
Volume 5
Issue 1                                                           


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In This Issue
CoopZone News
Cross Canada Co-op Developer Check-In, and Facebook Page
Peter Hough, Financial Officer (retired)- Reflections on time well spent
Calgary Youth & Seniors Look to Co-op Model to Create New Opportunities for Themselves
Vancouver's first co-op coworking space in the works
Co-op Confidential - Marty Frost
CCA and CDF appoint Michael Casey to top post
Job Posting for Chair in Co-operative Enterprises
Co-operative Angels: A new development tool
Credit Unions and Cooperatives: Matchmaker Needed?
Co-operative Management Education
Successful Cooperative Ownership Transitions
Co-op Development in Cuba
Futurpreneur on-line resources
CoopZone News  
We would like to welcome Jocelyn Durston, who will be doing the bookkeeping/RRSP program management while Kristin Glenn is off on maternity leave, until approximately October.  Here is Jocelyn's contact information:
Jocelyn Durston
Phone :(902) 678-1683
The postal address is the same as Kristin's, as on our web site.  

We extend our best wishes to Kristin on the birth of her baby, due on March 25th - though not yet born at the time of this writing - Congratulations!

The Canadian Worker Co-op Federation's Business Succession Committee has worked on concept paper in conjunction with Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC).  This paper discusses a proposal for a national business succession plan, and it is hoped that it will be finalized in time to become part of a pre-election government relations strategy. 

The Canadian Co-op Investment Fund has now completed a business plan, which takes it a step closer to launch.

Want to find out more about CoopZone? Want to find out how it would help you?

Here is a chance to get more information and ask questions. There will be two sessions one in English and one in French.

This tele-learning session is open to all CoopZone members as well as others with interest:
Tuesday, March 31st, for up to 45 minutes. English session starts at 2:00pm ET and the French session starts at 2:45 ET.

1) EN: The English session will be at 2 pm EDT, March 31st, for up to 45 minutes. Presenters will be CoopZone past (& founding) board member Lynn Hannley; CEC-NB Executive Director Wendy Keats, & Executive Director, Hazel Corcoran.

2) FR: The French session will start at 2:45 pm EDT, March 31st, for up to 45 minutes. Presenters will be CoopZone board member, Pascal Billard and Executive Director, Hazel Corcoran.

If you wish to participate in this session, which is free please RSVP to, by the evening of Monday, March 30th at the latest. If you RSVP, you will receive dial-in information by the morning of the session. If it's not received by that morning, please write again.

CoopZone tele-learning session notes now posted:

Cross Canada Co-op Developer Check-In, and CoopZone Facebook Page

CoopZone is seeking ways for members to more effectively share stories and news with each other.  In this spirit, we have launched the "Cross-Canada Co-op Developer Check-In". We also wish to encourage more use of the CoopZone Facebook page. 


If you have any ideas, news or stories you would like to share about co-ops in your area of the country or otherwise, send your articles to Kaye Grant, at  


We also encourage you to visit the CoopZone Facebook page here. Please like the page and share relevant information on it.  


By Kaye Grant


Earlier this month I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter about his time with the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation, CoopZone, and more generally his work in the co-op sector.


Peter has a long history with CWCF having been on the founding task force 25 years ago, in fact the founding meeting in 1991 was one of the highlights of Peter's time with CWCF. "Clearly that first meeting was very exciting in 1991, there was much excitement in the room." Peter noted.


Although Peter's formal role changed over the years, his commitment to CWCF's mission has never wavered. Peter was CWCF's first Executive Director, on a part-time basis from 1992 to 1995. Following that he moved to the role of financial officer for CWCF which he held until his retirement this spring; however, this function moved from initially being done on voluntary basis to part-time contract to a staff member in 2006. Peter was also the Fund Manager of "Tenacity Works" from 2000 until he retired. It's evident that CWCF might not have achieved its goals of becoming a national federation without Peter's contributions.


Peter has been involved with numerous co-ops at many different levels including member, manager, director, co-op training instructor and co-op development consultant. It's safe to say that wherever Peter lives / has lived, there seems to be a significant cluster of worker co-operatives. We are sure this isn't coincidental.


I asked Peter about what he thought was driving the worker co-op movement. He reflected that each country and context is different that the drivers globally are not homogeneous and there is no one model of success. This seems to speak to the challenges of growing the worker co-operative movement.  In order to grow this movement in Canada, Peter thinks we need to be prepared for opportunities such as business succession to worker co-ops and be ready to respond but a key action required to help this along is the continuing promotion of the worker co-op option. Without a significant increase in awareness of the option and its benefits especially with young people looking for an alternative to the dominant way of doing business, the sector will be challenged to grow significantly.


Focusing on CWCF Peter noted that "the turning point for CWCF's progress was the Tenacity Works Fund,"which CWCF obtained, after a significant lobbying effort, as a pilot project in the year 2000.   Up to then, we were surviving on contracts. This (Tenacity Works) gave CWCF some stability on which to grow its resources, and with it the movement in Canada started to grow which increased excitement and energy. The next key contributor to CWCF's development was the RRSP program and then the CDI program, both of which helped stabilize CWCF.


For Peter, the highlights of his time at CWCF coincided with some of these significant opportunities; Tenacity Works, the RRSP program, the Worker Co-op Developers Network and the development of CoopZone, all of which have provided important resources across the country. Peter has also been key to the development of the CoopZone Co-op Developers Training program which helps co-op developers get the skills and experience necessary to help develop and expand co-ops in Canada.


So I wondered how working with CWCF impacted or changed Peter's life. His response was not a surprise for me. He said, "I got the opportunity to do meaningful work with others and to create co-op businesses that focus on people. I got to work with and inspire others to take responsibility for their own livelihood; that was very meaningful and satisfying."  


Peter went on to note that "I met some extraordinary people, and I was challenged to become a better person because of that. I had the good fortune to develop skills that I was able to use in international development projects in Mongolia, China, Cuba and Croatia. "


In conclusion, Peter noted that he "feels a sense of completion."   Although he will continue to be involved with CWCF, his role will change from staff to volunteer and perhaps occasionally a contractor. He is looking forward to more downtime to spend with his wife, Lori, to engage in more leisure activities, to study, and perhaps even contribute to a few co-operatives, as he continues to be on a number of co-op boards and committees.


It's clear to me that Peter has been a significant driving force for the growth of CWCF. I'm sure that I speak on behalf of both staff and members when I extend my sincere gratitude for the time, effort and commitment he has put toward the worker co-operative movement and we wish him the best as he transitions to a new lifestyle; one which I hope continues to provide him with satisfaction and joy. 



Postscript from Hazel Corcoran:  Peter's contributions to CWCF, and to CoopZone, truly defy measure.  I was glad that we were able to honour him with a tribute at our 2014 AGM.  Peter has provided vision, strategic direction, on-the-ground work and tireless dedication.  He will be greatly missed on the staff. However, we all get to benefit from the legacy he leaves as well as the fact that he has generously agreed to play a small but important role in CWCF as a volunteer on some committees, and occasional contract worker - plus as a continuing member of CoopZone.  Your work has been deeply appreciated, and you leave CWCF and CoopZone in a strong position to grow into the future.  


Here is an interesting article sharing the increased interest in co-ops in Calgary.  This highlights  the Arizmendi bakery replication project that Greg O'Neill is working in Calgary.  Click here to read it.


Vancouver's first co-op coworking space in the works
Stephen Elliott-Buckley and Kevin Harding of Incipe are working on the development of  Vancouver's first Co-op Coworking space built on a "community first" co-op model. Click here to read about it in a local news article.

Co-op Confidential - Marty Frost  

Sheresw Johnson, from Co-op Confidential blog series with the BC Co-operative Association, Interviewed Marty Frost. 


Co-op Confidential is a monthly blog series from the BC Co-operative Association that features interviews with co-op business leaders, academics and activists to uncover the pithy truths that propel the co-operative movement.  


Sherese Johnson: What is a co-op developer and how did you become one? Was it a calling or an accidental discovery?


A co-op developer is someone who can bring a set of skills, experience and knowledge to the process of designing and establishing a co-op.  A whole set of circumstances led me to "become" a co-op developer in 1996.  That was when a bunch of people who were already, or recently had been, working in worker co-ops got together to look at the concept of setting up a co-op resource group after the fashion of the CDRs (coopératives de développement régionales) in Quebec.  Click here for more


CCA and CDF appoint Michael Casey to top post

Le français suit  



Ottawa, January 7, 2015


The Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF) are pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Casey as their new executive director, effective April 2.


"We are excited and pleased to welcome a leader as dynamic and experienced as Michael to the helm of our two organizations," says CCA president Patrice Pratt. "He shares our values and our vision to build a better world through co-operative action."


Mr. Casey brings a wealth of management and field experience to the post, including more than ten years as executive director of Development & Peace. Prior to that, he worked with co-operative movements in Northern Canada, and overseas with international development agencies including CCA. Between 1990 and 2005 Mr. Casey lived and worked in Asia, initially as a CCA program manager for a national bilateral co-operative development project in the Philippines, and later as CCA country program director in Indonesia.


"I am very pleased to be joining the team," says Mr. Casey. "There are many exciting opportunities and challenges ahead to work on with this dynamic group. I have many pleasant memories of my work with CCA internationally, and all the wonderful and inspiring leaders of our movement whom I was privileged to meet and work with. I am looking forward to renewing friendships and acquaintances in this new position."

"Michael's co-op roots run deep," says CDF Chair Cheryl Byrne. "He knows first hand the time-tested ways co-operatives and credit unions can help communities in need move out of poverty."


Mr. Casey grew up in Edmonton and currently lives in Montreal with his wife Lota and three teenage children. Retiring CDF and CCA executive director Jo-Anne Ferguson will continue in her post until April 2.  



L'ACC et la FDC nomment un nouveau directeur général


L'Association des coopératives du Canada (ACC) et la Fondation de développement coopératif du Canada (FDC) ont annoncé la nomination de Michael Casey en tant que leur nouveau directeur général, à compter du 2 avril.


«Nous sommes ravis et heureux d'accueillir un leader aussi dynamique et expérimenté que Michael à la tête de nos deux organisations», dit Patrice Pratt, présidente de l'ACC. «Il partage nos valeurs et notre vision de bâtir un monde meilleur par l'action coopérative.»


M. Casey apporte une riche expérience en gestion et sur le terrain pour le poste, y compris plus de dix ans en tant que directeur général de Développement et paix. Avant cela, il a travaillé avec des mouvements coopératifs dans le nord du Canada et à l'étranger, avec des organismes internationaux de développement, y compris l'ACC. Entre 1990 et 2005, M. Casey a vécu et travaillé en Asie, d'abord comme directeur de programme pour un projet national bilatéral de développement coopératif aux Philippines, et plus tard comme directeur national de programme en Indonésie pour l'ACC.


«Je suis très heureux de me joindre à l'équipe», dit M. Casey. «Il y a beaucoup de possibilités et de défis passionnants auxquels travailler avec ce groupe dynamique. J'ai beaucoup de souvenirs agréables de mon travail avec l'ACC à l'échelle internationale, et de tous les dirigeants merveilleux et inspirants de notre mouvement que j'ai eu le privilège de rencontrer et avec qui j'ai travaillé».


«Les racines coopératives de Michael sont profondes» a déclaré la présidente de FDC Cheryl Byrne. "Il est très familier avec les méthodes éprouvées par lesquelles les coopératives et les caisses de crédit peuvent aider les communautés dans le besoin à sortir de la pauvreté."


M. Casey a grandi à Edmonton et vit présentement à Montréal avec son épouse Lota et ses trois enfants adolescents. Jo-Anne Ferguson continuera à assumer ses fonctions de directrice générale de l'ACC et de FDC jusqu'au 2 avril.


Job Posting for Chair in Co-operative Enterprises

The University of Winnipeg, Department of Business and Administration is recruiting for the Chair in  Co-operative Enterprises.  Please circulate this to people who may be qualified and interested. Click here to read the posting.


Note that Claudia Sanchez Bajo held this position until the end of last semester (January 2015) when she resigned and has now returned to Brussels.  Through her connections two international guests, Mikel Lazamiz and Bruno Roelants both held public meetings in Winnipeg during Claudia's tenure in the position. CoopZone was pleased to be able to collaborate with Claudia during her time in Winnipeg, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavours.   


Co-operative Angels: A new development tool


Co-operative Angels: How to recruit and develop them [A new personal development tool]


 Ryszard Stocki, Research Fellow at St. Mary's University and lead developer of the Co-op Index, shares this invitation with us via LinkedIn.  


Credit Unions and Cooperatives: Matchmaker Needed?

From the March 18, 2015 issue of Credit Union Times Magazine 

Credit Unions and Cooperatives: Matchmaker Needed?

By Myriam DiGiovanni March 15, 2015  


Note by CoopZone staff: the commentary in this Wisconsin-based article may ring true in your region of Canada, too.  


The best kept secret about credit unions might be the opportunities that exist in partnering with other local cooperatives.


Consider the statistics. Globally, the largest 300 cooperatives have collective revenues of $1.6 trillion. In the United States, a recent Filene Research Institute and National Credit Union Foundation report entitled Quantifying the Business Case for Credit Unions and Other Cooperatives revealed that cooperatives' assets totaled $1.754 billion. A breakdown of those assets revealed $346 billion were non-financial cooperatives, $1.126 billion were credit unions and $282 billion were other financial cooperatives that were owned, at least in part, by non-financial cooperatives.


With shared principles of service to members, credit unions and their community cooperatives working together to build mutually beneficial relationships would be a no-brainer.


Yet there seems to be a disconnect; even in Wisconsin, with its long history of cooperatives.


According to Holly Fearing, digital media strategist at CUNA Mutual Group and board member of natural foods cooperative Willy Street Coop, a combination of ideological misconceptions and lip service have created stumbling blocks to collaborative efforts.


"There's this mentality among cooperatives here in Madison that credit unions are very corporate, too similar to banks, and don't get the mission of cooperatives," she said. "As for credit unions, they don't necessarily understand the structure of worker cooperatives. You can't treat cooperatives like a run of the mill business partnership."


Worker cooperatives find themselves unable to turn to a credit union for a loan because of underwriting

New Executive Education Course offered by Co-operative Management Education, Saint Mary's University  

Here is a newsletter from Sr. Mary's University that provides information about this new executive education course and other news updates.  Click here to ready their newsletter.


The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives and the  Democracy at Work Institute are proud to present  Successful Cooperative Ownership Transitions, a joint report that documents the stories of five successful worker cooperative conversions:


Co-op Development in Cuba 

Cuban Work - Update as presented in the Network Newsletter distributed by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada on March 27, 2015
By: Wendy Holm, P. Ag. M.M.C.C.U.

This February, Co-op Index architects Sonja Novkovic, Peter Hough and Ryszard Stocki, together with MMCCU 2014 grad and Professional Agrologist Wendy Holm, met for the second time with professors at Cuba's national farmer coop training facility to finalize development of a Co-op Index tailored to meet the needs of cooperatives operating within a socialist (versus capitalist) system.  
Read more.

Here is another update on the Canadian team.

In the U.S. the NCBA CLUSA Cuba Cooperative Working Group (CCWG) was formed in early 2014 to explore opportunities for engaging with Cuba on cooperative development in various sectors of the country's economy.


The CCWG's first project was a one-week exploratory trip to Cuba in July 2014. 


This report documents their findings from this trip. Click here to download their report.   


Futurpreneur On-line Resources 

There is a good business plan writer package, free-on-line, from Futurprener (previously called the Canada Youth Business Foundation "CYBF). 

CoopZone Executive Director Hazel Corcoran recently had a conference call with their management team in which she got information about this.  Futurpreneur works with individual entrepreneurs and can also support co-ops as long as the majority of the members are under age 40.  However, anyone can use their many free online resources, including the business plan writer.

In addition, they can make loans to individuals with a guarantee, though currently not to a co-op).  Click here to access their available resources.
CoopZone is a network of people and organizations which help others to start and develop co-operatives.   
Please send any comments, suggestions and ideas for articles to: 


Kaye Grant  
Editor of CoopZone Newsletter
(204) 257-1198
Phone: 204-257- 1198