A co-operative’s success depends on its structure and the involvement of its members, and its survival rate can be twice as high as a traditional business.

10 Steps to Start a Co-operative

  1. Gather a group of promoters around a project (identify needs)
  2. Conduct a feasibility study
  3. Hold a meeting
  4. Conduct a viability assessment
  5. Organize the association
  6. Plan the business operation
  7. Plan and organize the business start-up financing
  8. Ensure the company operations’ legality
  9. Prepare the employed staff
  10. Hold the general assembly


Incorporating Your Co-operative

Incorporation gives your organization legal rights and recognition under the law. This legal status allows a co-operative to purchase assets and incur debt, and generally makes it easier to raise capital. It also limits the liability of your individual members in the event of legal or financial difficulties.

While a group may operate as an informal co-operative, it cannot use the word “co-operative” in its name, nor can it be recognized under the law, unless it is formally incorporated.

A co-operative is incorporated either provincially or federally and is then governed either by a provincial or territorial Co-operatives Act, or the Canada Co-operatives Act. The difference depends on the location of operations: a federally incorporated co-op will operate in at least two provinces or territories and will have fixed offices in more than one province or territory.

Incorporating a Federal Co-operative

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) regulates co-operatives incorporated under the Canada Co-operatives Act. Their website provides access to policies, legislation, forms, and fees associated with federal co-operative incorporation.

Incorporating a Provincial or Territorial Co-operative

Most Canadian co-ops are regulated under provincial or territorial legislation. To find out how to incorporate your co-op in your region, please select a province or territory.


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