Helping rural & Indigenous communities grow & thrive.


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.

Co-operatives First has the supports, resources and experience to help groups decide if they should become entrepreneurs, and we have the networks and connections to support group entrepreneurs working hard to build their businesses.

And we provide this service at no cost.

Our process



Inspiring your community.

We host events promoting the co-operative business model across western Canada. If your group, community or organization would like us to host or attend an Inspire event, contact us. We’d love to hear from you. 



Exploring an opportunity.

The co-operative business model is versatile and could be the solution your group is looking for. If your group has identified an opportunity and would like support and guidance in finding a solution, contact us




Creating a co-operative business.

After exploring options, assessing community support and deciding on the co-operative business model as a solution, it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get to work. If your group is interested in starting a business based on the co-operative business model and could use some guidance, contact us



Helping your business thrive.

Running a business is challenging – especially for group entrepreneurs. But help is available and we know where to find it. If you could use a hand making your co-operative business thrive, contact us



Building your network and know-how.

Economic and business development professionals interested in a versatile and adaptive business model positioned well for use in rural and Indigenous communities, we have what you need. Check out our growing open source co-operative development curriculum, sign up for training or contact us to learn more. 



Co-operatives First means business.


Thoughts and success stories



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