There’s something about working with co-ops that Vanessa Hammond really likes.
Maybe, said the Parksville resident Tuesday, it’s because people involved with co-ops tend to … co-operate.
That, she added, helps co-ops remain one of the most stable forms of business going, although they often tend to fly under the media radar in the face of enterprises that use more aggressive business practices.
“Co-ops, when they are set up properly, are more durable than any other type of business,” she said. “After five years, nine out of 10 co-ops will still be alive, compared to six out of 10 other businesses.”
Hammond, who works part-time for the Canadian Co-op Association, made the comments as she staffed a display at the Coastal Community Credit Union Thursday to mark International Co-op week, October 16 to 22.
The key to their success, she said, besides the co-operative aspect, involves setting out a shared set of values between the people in the group — a very different modus operandi from most other business relationships.
“A co-op is anything that follows the seven international co-op principles,” she said. “It’s a form of incorporation equivalent to foundations and so on.
“It’s a formal arrangement. The difference is you start with shared values. People get together and decide they want to do something for themselves or the community.”
The reason a co-op is set up, she added, can be as varied as art sales to motorcycle maintenance.
“I joined my first co-op at age 13 so I could sell eggs,” she said.
“One co-op in Victoria is run by a group of guys with motorbikes whose wives got tired of them always fixing their motorcycles in their living rooms, so they made a co-op motorcycle shop.”
Although her promotion of the co-op concept was fairly low-key this year, Hammond said she plans to do something a little more in the public eye in 2012, which has been named the International Year of the Co-Op.
“What we are doing this year is thinking about how we can strengthen the sector for next year and how we can make more people aware of how co-ops can help create sustainable communities,” she said.