1. It will be difficult: Starting a health co-operative can be a long and arduous journey. It requires a group of highly passionate people, the help of experts, funding and a high level of engagement with members to develop a successful co-operative.
2. Seek out experience: As a first point of call “talk to someone who has been through the process as the co-op movement is willing and able to assist.” (Adrian Watts, Managing Director) Consider exactly what type of expertise your team requires and find the right people who share your passion. Their experience will be invaluable.
3. Define the need: The problem needs to be examined from multiple angles to understand the drivers and scale of the problem and the impact on key stakeholders. This will provide insights into what the community will be willing to support.
4. Don’t rely on public funding: The Committee lost ground seeking public funding based on the principle that the Government should be helping a community organisation delivering health outcomes. Seeking public funding requires significant resources, can be distracting from other work and opens the organisation up to critique on exactly how the funding is used. Focusing on accessing funding from co-operative banks and members may be an easier approach.
5. Remember why you started: It’s important to always remember your members are the owners of the co-operative and you are there to serve their needs first. You can’t shut your doors on them when it gets too hard.