Member Loans Program a Big Success


At the September AGM, the Board launched its Member Loans Program. By the end of September, the Co-op had exceeded its goal and set a North American record! Paula Sobie, Board Director and Member Loans committee member, reports.

Back in 1991, the Kootenay Co-op ran a member loans program wherein the Co-op raised $100,000 amongst the membership to help with the store’s move from one end of Baker Street to the other. Now, 22 years later and with a much more significant move back to the other end of Baker Street in the works, the Co-op reached out to our member-owners once again with a member loans campaign. We set the lofty goal of raising $1.5M to cover costs associated with fixturing the store, and we are ecstatic with the results!

A campaign such as this in a community of our size is no small feat. With an air of do-it-ourselves determinism and a helpful manual on how to go about a loans campaign, the committee started actively meeting last spring and hatched our plans. The Board– and more specifically our Member Loans Committee–debated the amount of money to state as our goal, knowing that raising $1.5 million in one month was setting our sights high. The money was targeted to cover a substantial percentage of the costs of fixturing and equipping our new store, estimated at $3million in total.

We knew that financial commitment to the project would result in an even greater sense of ownership and care from our members. Equally as important was to make this program as accessible as possible to our widest membership base. So we made the decision to open investment opportunities at $1000.  Thankfully, 178 members came forward with what they could and supported this local, ethical investment opportunity in our Co-op.

When all the numbers were tallied, the Kootenay Co-op succeeded in raising $1,776,200 – which broke North American records for the amount raised by a natural foods co-op!

With tremendous volunteer effort (around 500 hours!) exerted to reach this feat, the Co-op’s member-owners are one step closer to our goal of a sizeable new store with ample parking. Of course we’ll still be operating with the same values-based approach from which we were created almost 40 years ago. And through our members support of the Member Loans Program, the Kootenay Co-op will continue to grow our regional economy and our pride in this place we call home.

-Paula Sobie, Board Director