, ,

Co-operation Between Co-operatives: The Sixth Cooperative Principle

As organizations aimed at achieving economic strength and autonomy by banding together, it is clear that credit unions have a role to play in supporting similar organizations. This is an extension of the goal I have written about already: promoting credit unions’ local role in supporting local small businesses and charities.  And as Synergy Credit Union describes it in the presentation I have pointed to every time: 

What it means to you: Your credit union strengthens the cooperative movement by partnering with organizations that share the same important values.

Credit unions are members of the larger cooperative movement

Credit unions are part of a larger international cooperative movement. In fact, that international movement is where the seven principles I am discussing originated from. 

The goal of the International Cooperative Alliance is to promote cooperatives around the world. The ICA states this point very clearly when they tell us that: 

“(i)t was established in 1895 to promote the cooperative model. Today cooperative members represent at least 12% of humanity. As businesses driven by values and not by the remuneration of capital, the 3 million cooperatives on earth act together to build a better world.”

And they play a significant role in the Canadian economy as well. According to the Canadian government:  “In 2020, Canadian co-operatives generated $48.6 billion in total revenue, held $44.3 billion in total assets, employed 100,987 people, and paid $2.6 billion in salaries and wages.”

And if you’re interested in finding a coop in your neighbourhood, you can try the search engine on the Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) website.

The Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation is a similar organization supporting worker coops, like my favorite bike shop here in Toronto, Urbane Cyclist

But it’s not just cooperatives – B Corps do good too 

While cooperatives in sectors like agriculture, housing, and retail are an important part of the economy they aren’t the only model that sets out to make a difference in their communities – whether local, regional or international. 

Another category of business entities striving to make an impact are Certified Benefit Corporations, B Corps for short. The B Corp website tells us that:

Certified B Corporations are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. Unlike other certifications for businesses, B Lab is unique in our ability to measure a company’s entire social and environmental impact.

Certified B Corporations are situated all over the world, with almost 850 members in Canada and over 7300 around the world. But the website notes that this is different from benefit corporations that commit themselves to goals similar to those espoused by B Corp, but are not required to meet B Lab’s standards.

I find it fascinating to browse through the catalogue for companies offering coffee, craft beer, and clothing – to name just a few. 

A few randomly chosen B Certified Corporations I am familiar with and have purchased from (these are not endorsements) include:

  • Propeller Coffee (Certified since 2017): The company name makes it clear what they sell
  • High Park Brewery (Certified since 2017) Purveyors of craft beer
  • Beaus All Natural Brewery – Canada’s first B corp brewery since 2013
  • Bombas  (Certified since 2017) Their mission is to donate one item of apparel for every time sold (!00 million to date), but they have recently stopped shipping their products outside the United States.
  • Tentree (Certified since 2016) A Canadian apparel company that has already planted over 100 million trees, based on sales