How To Start A Co-operative

This comic was made possible by the CWCF 2019 Arts and Cultural grant.

A zebra, a bat, and an alligator above a scroll saying 'How to start a co-operative', with pastoral grazelands in the background Page 1. Panel 1: In the grazelands, Zebra is carrying a stack of hay and Bat is eating a strawberry on a branch. Zabra says: 'I hate how Grazebook can track everywhere I go! No privacy in my own field I tell ya!'. Bat replies: 'Yeah that’s the worst. Imagine if the ones making these apps actually cared about the people using them!' Zebra says: 'I’ve heard of a co-op, where the members are owners or something... not too sure.' Meanwhile, Alligator is asleep.

        Panel 2: Alligator suddenly wakes up. Page 2. Panel 1: Alligator asks: 'Wait Zebra, aren’t you super good at computers or whatever?' Zebra replies: 'Ya...' Alligator asks: 'And Bat, don’t you do design stuff for a living?' Bat replies: 'Uh-huh'.

        Panel 2: Alligator, starry-eyed, says: 'Well, what if you guys make the tech, I handle the business side, and we make this a real thing!' Page 3. Panel 1: The animals stop at a co-op association, aptly named 'Local Co-op'. They are greeted by a wise Owl. Bat asks: 'So what exactly is a co-op?'

        Panel 2: Owl explains: ' Co-operatives (co-ops) are democratically owned and controlled by: Workers (for example, Shift Delivery and Sustainability Solutions Group), producers (for example, Gay Lea and Agropur Dairy Co-operative), consumers (for example, MEC and the Tool Library Co-operative), or a combination of the above (for example, Stocksy and Savvy). Co-ops respond to the needs of their communities.' In the background, we see the Earth covered in co-operative flags. Page 4. Panel 1: The animals and Owl are gathered at an outdoor table with a patio umbrella for a conversation. Zebra is reading a book on co-operatives. Alligator asks: 'So if we’re all owners, who makes the decisions? And who gets to keep the profits?' Owl replies: 'Each member gets one vote. Co-ops can choose to be for-profit or not-for-profit. The profit can be distributed back to the co-op members!'

        Panel 2: We see that the book Zebra is reading is called 'Co-ops 101'. Zebra says: ' Wow! So all members can thrive under co-operativism because they get a share of the profits and a fair vote!'

        Panel 3: Bat says: 'So it’s settled, we’ll start a co-operative to collectively own our grazing data, now onto finding some investors!' Page 5. Panel 1: The animals are in a city at sunset. They are standing in front of a black bank building that has a 'Big Money Bank' sign on top of it. The building has glowing, red eyes and teeth.

        Panel 2: At the investor's office. The office is grey and barren. The investor is an Anglerfish wearing a suit and tie, and he is asleep at his desk. Alligator says: '...So these are our projections for the year and we’re looking for 100k right now!'

        Panel 3: The investor wakes up. He says: '100k? What are the profit margins?'

        Panel 4: The investor stands up. He says: 'And do I get a seat on the board? How many votes do I get?'

        Panel 5: The animals look stunned. Alligator says: 'Uh, well, we’re a co-op, so usually investors get one vote regardless of shares….'

        Panel 6: The investor asks: 'A co-op? What? Are you a non-profit?'

        Panel 7: Alligator stars saying 'Uh, actually...' but the investor interrupts her, saying 'One vote? Sorry, I don’t work with these structures'

        Panel 8: The investor is standing at an arena and holding a bloodied sword. He says: 'This is not charity. This is the bloodthirsty arena of capitalism!' Page 6. Panel 1: A city at nighttime. The sky is cloudy and grey and it is raining. There is a building that says 'Invest' on it and a currency exchange. The animals are sitting in alley under the rain, feeling discouraged. Aliigator says: 'We’ve talked to 5 investors so far and they’re all saying the same thing....'

        Panel 2: We see that the animals are sitting next to a trash can. Zebra says: 'They don’t even know what a co-op is. It’s useless.' Bat says: 'Imagine if there were investors who cared about people instead of profit margins...'

        Panel 3: The rain stops. A light shines on a sign that says 'Ourcity Credit Union'. Zebra says: 'Oh wait...'

        Panel 4: Zebra raises his arms triumphantly. The other two look confused. Zebra says: 'Credit unions!' Bat asks: 'Uh, what's that again?'

        Panel 5: Zebra says: 'I read about them in the co-ops 101 book! They’re like a non-profit bank owned by members.' Page 7. Panel 1: The animals arrive at Ourcity, a credit union. It is well-lit and brightly-coloured, there are plants and free fruit in the lobby. They are greeted by a community investor, who is a pink cat. The community investor says: 'Welcome to Ourcity!'

        Panel 2: At the community investor's office. The office is bright and full of plants. The community investor says: 'A co-operatively owned data collection platform that promotes sustainable food practices?'

        Panel 3: The community investor says: 'That sounds amazing! Ourcity can give you a grant to get this thing off the ground.'

        Panel 4: The animals are sitting on comfy red chairs and Alligator is eating strawberries out of a bowl. They say in unison: 'Well… that sounds like a deal!' Page 8. We see the animals in the process of developing their co-op, named Grazer. Panel 1: At the Grazr office. Bat is explaining UX diagrams to Alligator and Zebra.

        Panel 2: The animals are working on the Grazr app on their laptops. We see that the time of day changes from morning to night.

        Panel 3: In the Grazelands, the animals are doing user research. They are showing the app to Octopus and Bunny. Bat is writing down notes on a clipboard.

        Panel 4: Back in the office, the animals, the community investor, and Owl, are discussing incorporation documents. Alligator and the community investor shake hands.

        Panel 5: In the Grazelands, at the grand opening of the Grazr co-operative. Zebra is raising his arms in front of the Grazr buildings, and Bat is sitting on Alligator's head. Owl and the community investors come to show support to the co-op members. Page 9. The opening text says: 'Some time later...' Panel 1: In the Grazelands, Grazr members and supporters are having a potluck. All kinds of animals are hanging out on a hill surrounded by blueberry bushes.

        Panel 2: Alligator, Zebra, and Bat are sitting together under a tree. Bat says: 'I can't believe we did it. We can finally graze without worrying about our data!' Alligator says: 'We couldn't have done it without the support of our co-op friends'. We see a newspaper with a picture of the three animals on the front page. It says: 'Co-op Daily: Grazr, the co-op grazing app inspires a wave of other co-op apps.'

        Panel 3: All the animals say: 'Here's how you can get started on your co-op journey!

Connect with a co-operative organization:

International Co-operative Organizations

International Co-operative Alliance
Platform Co-operativism Consortium, and their Resource Library

National Co-operative Organizations

Canadian Worker Co-op Federation
US Federation of Worker Co-operatives
Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada and their youth-specific board, Canada’s Emerging Co-operators
Co-operatives First
Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation

Provincial Co-operative Organizations

British Columbia Co-op Association
Alberta Community Co-op Association
Saskatchewan Co-operative Association
Manitoba Co-operative Association
Ontario Co-operative Association
Conseil de la Coopération de l'Ontario (Ontario, Francophone)
Reseau Co-op (Quebec)
Nova Scotia Co-operative Council
Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick
Newfoundland-Labrador Federation of Co-operatives

Join a co-operative educational program


Co-operate Now (BC)
Youth Hub For Co-operative Enterprise (BC)
Parcours Co-op (Quebec)

Summer Camps

Co-operative Young Leaders (Ontario)
Co-operative Youth Leadership Program (Alberta)
Co-op Youth Leadership Retreat (Manitoba)
Co-op Camp (Saskatchewan)

Online Courses

Governance In Co-operatives
CoopZone Co-op Development Training Programs

Post-Graduate Programs

International Centre For Co-operative Management

Co-ops In Schools

Co-ops In Schools (BC)
All 4 Each (Ontario)


Each for All: The Co-operative Connection - a weekly show all about the co-op sector!