Learning about cooperative enterprise at CCMA 2018

Last month I attended the 2018 Consumer Cooperative Management Association conference in Portland, Oregon on behalf of BFC. It was my third time attending the conference. The information shared in the sessions and by the speakers is invaluable to a startup co-op like ours. It is mostly attended by established cooperative grocery stores that have been in business for 30 years, 40 years, or longer.

Attendees include board members, general mangers, staff, and members of the larger cooperative community that offer services such as loans, consulting and training. Talking to my fellow attendees gives me the opportunity to ask questions and learn from their experience what to do and, more importantly, what NOT to do! When I return home I share what I have learned with the BFC Board of Directors and can provide insight on various issues as we move forward in our store-planning process.

Sessions are categorized into six themes, and I focused on attending sessions about ensuring that our membership and customer base is as diverse as our community, as well as owner outreach and board governance.

Here are my top five takeaways from this year’s conference:

  1. It’s never too soon to begin talking about our upcoming capital campaign, which will launch to raise the funds needed to open the store. Lots of communication, the earlier the better is the goal!
  2. Co-ops that succeed put members and customers first! We need to make sure there is a sense of community around our co-op so everyone feels connected to it. We'll be focusing on thinking of ways to add value to the lives of our customers.
  3. When people eat together they begin to talk, and they talk about issues that are affecting them … social issues. They unite. Together they work to make change happen, cooperatively.
  4. We need our co-op to serve the whole community, and make sure our co-op reflects that in all ways. Our staff must reflect the community and its diversity. We need to provide fair compensation and good jobs, along with opportunities for staff to learn and advance. Empower the staff.
  5. Reinforce the seven cooperative principles among our membership to help us all understand that the real work of a co-op isn’t just to open a store that sells groceries, but to help build community and work together.
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commented 2018-06-28 05:57:20 -0400 · Flag
Matthew 13
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Revelation 13
9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.

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