A co-operative is very similar to a corporation. It is an entity which can enter into contracts, hold insurance, and exist for as long as it needs to. The board of directors is the highest decision-making body and they are elected and accountable to the shareholders of the corporation.
One key difference is that the voting power of the shareholders is democratically distributed instead of being based on the number of shares a shareholder owns. Co-ops can have different structures where different stakeholders are the shareholders. For Avocado, the members who buy from us are our shareholders. When you buy a $10 Regular Membership share you become a member and part owner of the co-op with the same voting power as the original founders.
Instead of having a responsibility to make money for our shareholders, a co-op's responsibility is to serve its members in some way. For the Avocado Co-op our bottom line is:
Making it easier for our members to live more sustainably.
This frees us to think long-term, creatively, and sustainably.
As a co-op our values are important to help set your expectations and to help us make the decisions about what we are and what we aren’t as we grow.
The 7 Principles of Co-operation are where we start:
- Voluntary And Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Member Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training And Information
- Co-operation Among Co-operatives
- Concern for Community
From that foundation we add the five Avocado values:
From sharing our research with our members to helping members share information with each other to sharing what we learn with other co-ops, valuing sharing means transparency and openness are the default.
Capacity includes incremental improvement and long-term thinking. Building capacity means challenging ourselves to incrementally improve all of our processes and investing in long-term plans even if it is at the expense of short-term gains.
Practicality means optimizing for the aggregate impact over our entire community. It is easy to get overwhelmed when thinking sustainability in absolute terms. The focus instead is on supporting any incremental change as long as it has an impact. Changes which are easier for more people to make will have a greater aggregate impact than a change which has a large impact but only a limited number of people are able to make.
Inclusiveness means meeting you where you are at. If you want to make a change to live more sustainably, or make many changes, we want to be there to help. The changes you want to make are entirely up to you and each change, however small, is awesome!
Finally, the experience we provide is as important as the underlying goals. If we can make it easier and remarkable to live more sustainably than not, we will be able to grow our community and have a much bigger impact.
Avocado Co-op is incorporated with shared capital, meaning we can sell Preference Shares to our members. Preference Shares do not come with additional voting rights. Instead, they help the co-op grow, are adjusted for inflation, and can provide dividends when the co-op is making a profit.
In the coming months we will be announcing our investment drive to raise and additional $30,000 in capital which we can apply to be matched with grants to really help us accelerate our growth.
Meet the Board
From sustainability to technology to retail our board has it covered.
Software developer interested in sustainable living and preserving the environment for future generations. Consumers have the power to make a difference, and we need to make it easy for everyone to choose environmentally friendly options.
Heather works in the Sustainable Transportation sector. Graduate of the Environment and Business Program at the University of Waterloo. Proud supporter of Co-ops. Believes that businesses can do well by doing good.
Professor at the University of Waterloo who focuses on marketing for sustainability initiatives. Current chair of REEP Green Solutions. Hopes this co-op will make it easier for people in our community to source sustainable products and services and to share their knowledge about sustainable living.
Community connector, Director at Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada and Corporate Secretary with Bread & Roses. Strongly believes that local & ethical investment in Canadian businesses will bring forth a more sustainable future.
Master in Biology and Sustainability who helps coordinate the Velocity Science program at the University of Waterloo. Fierce attention to detail and passionate drive to create great experiences underpin the best of what this organization can be.
Web developer with an interest in sustainable living and desire to work to make thing better. The future will shift towards sustainable thinking and we have an opportunity to make huge contribution by being a leader.
Former wholesale business owner, current student at the University of Waterloo and avid cyclist, Jay believes that an actively engaged co-operative has great potential to help us live more sustainably.