New Internationalist

Get going

Issue 368

It’s easier than you think.

Anyone can start a co-op. Nothing could be simpler. All it takes is a bright idea shared by at least two people – no co-op is too small to make a difference. You meet, decide what to call yourselves – and away you go.

However, durable co-ops usually combine the excitement of the first idea with some clear-headed thinking – which can be rewarding, too. Look for the most difficult questions you can possibly ask yourselves. Is anyone else doing the same thing? If so, what can you learn from them? If not, is it such a bright idea after all?

There is no formula. All kinds of co-ops abound and they work in different ways. It’s important to find – or invent – the right way for you. Regulations and tax regimes vary from one country to the next – they can make a very big difference. Two things always matter more than most:

Never lose sight of your ideals. Keep them alive and kicking. That’s what co-ops are for – and why they can be the best way to translate your ideals into practice.

Co-operation – not competition – between co-ops is a basic principle. There’s a network to promote it, which can save you a lot of time and trouble.

So, one of your first moves should be to find your nearest useful contact. It might be another co-op. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a good local co-op development association. If not, contact your regional or national association and they should be able to help – or to put you in touch with someone who can.

Aotearoa/New Zealand

New Zealand Co-operatives Association,

Level 5, Agriculture House,

12 Johnston Street,

Wellington 6001.

tel: (+64) 4 472 4595

fax: (+64) 4 472 4538

email: [email protected]



Co-operative Federation of Victoria Ltd,

71 Franciscan Avenue,


Victoria 3199.

tel: (+61) 9785 6704

fax: (+61) 9785 6542



Co-operatives UK,

Holyoake House,

Hanover Street,

Manchester M60 0AS.

tel: (+44) 161 246 2900

fax: (+44) 161 831 7684

email: via website



Canadian Co-operative Association,

Co-operative House,

400-275 Bank Street,

Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2L6.

tel: (+1) 613 238 6711

fax: (+1) 613 567 0658

email: [email protected]


United States

University of Wisconsin Center for Co-operatives,



National Co-operative Business Association,

1401 New York Ave NW,

Suite 1100,

Washington DC 200005.

tel: (+1) 202 638 6222

fax: (+1) 202 638 1374

email: [email protected]


The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)

15, route des Morillons,

1218 Grand-Saconnex,



tel: (+41) 22 929 88 88

fax: (+41) 22 798 41 22

email: [email protected]


The ICA was set up at the end of the 19th century and is now based in Geneva, where it has formal links with the United Nations, and with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in particular. It has regional offices for the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Central and Southern Africa and Europe. It also has organizations for agriculture, fisheries, banking, consumers, health, housing, insurance, tourism and workers.

Note that coop domain names, though relatively expensive, are available only to co-ops and so may be able to give you the name you really want. You can register via the ICA website.

This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7

Comments on Get going

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Recently in Features

All Features

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 368

New Internationalist Magazine issue 368
Issue 368

More articles from this issue

  • Tales of the unexpected

    June 1, 2004

    For all their faults, co-ops are more widespread and active than you might imagine. If economic democracy has anything to do with it, argues David Ransom, there will even more of them in future.

  • What Is A Co-op?

    June 1, 2004

    The basic principles.

  • The pollen and the bees

    June 1, 2004

    Economic collapse in Argentina forced thousands of workers to occupy their own places of work. Joseph Huff-Hannon reports on the aftermath.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.