Opportunity Development Co-operatives
An Opportunity Development Co-operative (ODC) is formed by local leaders like yourselves. The ODC, which is registered with the provincial government as for-profit co-operative, identifies, or is approached by, local entrepreneurs with a business opportunity in need of investment. Members of the ODC review the business plan and often provide advice about it. They then agree on the best way to assist the business with debt financing (a loan) or equity financing (land, equipment or co-owners). In some cases, the ODC may decide not to invest.
When the members of the ODC have found the opportunity they like, they collect local money by selling membership and investment shares to community members. The ODC then invests the money in the local business. Over time, the Co-op may have many share offerings, and collect local money to invest in a variety of businesses in the community. ODC members are usually the investment shareholders, too. That’s because membership gives equal voting rights to each member, and eligibility to run for the Board of Directors of the Opportunity Development Co-operative.
Besides supporting the business themselves, Co-op members help out in other ways, too. Co-op members add community credibility for the business and provide word-of-mouth advertising. In some cases, you provide mentorship, or sharing of business expertise with the entrepreneurs. You also have professional networks to which you can introduce the entrepreneurs. As the business prospers and financing agreements are fulfilled with the Co-op, the value of the investment shares in the Co-op rise.
Here are some examples of Opportunity Development Co-operatives in Alberta!