Our main program is cooperative development for mutually owned businesses. We work with groups interested in forming a cooperative throughout the state of Hawai‘i. First, we educate the group on the benefits and challenges of cooperatives as well as the steps to developing one. Then we take them through the steps, making decisions at each stage whether the project should continue. Cooperatives can take six months to two years to develop. When properly set up in a viable business, they can be effective for generations.
Read Just the Facts: What’s So Good About Co-ops? (Yes! Magazine, Feb. 2013)
The interested group needs to form a steering committee that will be supported by several types of professional assistance before the business goes into operation. We assist with the general cooperative development and draw on partner organizations and consultants for specific areas of project feasibility, business planning, legal advice, and accounting systems.
Read Co-ops 101: An Introduction to Cooperatives (USDA Rural Development)
Cooperatives are groups of people who must work together. Working together requires that you move a little more slowly than with a sole proprietorship, until you have your operating culture and effective decision-making in gear. Clarifying roles and responsibilities early and often reduces the need for conflict resolution later.
We also work with existing cooperatives to help with continuous cooperative education across the life of the business. This includes member and board trainings, as well as business operations assessments and strategic planning for expansion.
Cooperatives are locally owned and capitalized by their members. In Hawai‘i, we need to keep our businesses rooted here, with decision-making that is responsive and responsible to our community. Building a self-reliant economy will keep us stable and sustainable despite global shifts.
If your group or business is interested in receiving technical assistance, please download and complete our Intake Form.