Featured Co-operatives

Syinurayi Collective Farming Co-operative

Cashel Valley, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe

Membership: The co-operative has 24 members and is situated in a community of just less than 100 people.

Activity: The objectives of the co-operative are:

  • to develop agricultural inputs in the area,
  • improving the living standards of the members,
  • to become self reliant,
  • processing farm produce to finished goods.

Organisational Form: The Syinurayi Co-operative operates on a one-member one-vote system, with an equal share of decision-making power held by each member. For the purposes of practical management the co-operative elects a management committee of seven people each year at a general meeting of the co-operative. All major decisions regarding the co-operatives future would likewise be decided by the collective at a general meeting.

Date Formed: Registered on the 30 th of November 1982 .

Area Served: The small Syinurayi Co-operative has replaced the former commercial farm. Located 88 km south of Mutare in the Manicaland Province .

Structure: All the money the co-operative earns is divided equally between members. There are no wages for members. The monthly family income hovers around $100. The co-operative has set aside a small amount of savings, but has no assets, nor debts, as all infrastructure and equipment is owned by the state.

Adapted from a case study by Wim Klunne; For more information, please see this feature on the Micro Hydro Power internet portal

The Alma Mater Society Bicycle Co-operative

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Membership: The AMS Bicycle Co-operative consists of almost 500 members of the University of British Columbia 's undergraduate and graduate student population as well as the university's staff, faculty, and other community members.

Activity: The Bike Co-op is dedicated to making the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus a better place for cyclists and their bikes through improving the cycling environment. This is accomplished through providing public bikes, operating a bicycle shop, educating people about bicycling issues and advocating upgrades to bicycle planning and policy.

Organisational Form: The AMS Bicycle Co-op was incorporated as a student club through the Alma Mater Society (AMS) at the University of British Columbia , (UBC) Vancouver , BC in May, 1998.

Date Formed: May 1998.

Structure: The Co-op is a student-run club of the Alma Mater Society of UBC, and is thus primarily responsible to its "parent" organization. As a result, the current executive structure has a President, Vice-President and Treasurer, in addition to up to seven Directors-at-large. Even with this framework, the co-op's actual practice is to use consensus among members present for decision-making and to share responsibility for the various projects and activities. Most of the daily Bike Co-op administration and co-ordination takes place at the Hub where they employ one full-time and four part-time workers. Some Board members do take paid positions, depending on the available.

Autumn 2001, the fleet had increased to a total of 230 bicycles. In a university community that has a population of 37,000 undergrad and graduate students, it is clear that cycling is, for many people, the most sensible mode of transportation to, from and around the campus.


UBC Student Member

External Member

Full Year 
(Sept 1 - Aug 31)



2/3 Year 
(Jan 1 - Aug 31)



(May 1 - Aug 31)



There are no shares in the AMS Bicycle Co-op. Rather, the Bicycle Co-op charges an annual membership fee that costs twice as much for other members as it does for registered UBC students.

Additionally, members who wish to have access to the fleet of Purple and Yellow public bikes are asked to contribute at least three volunteer hours learning how to fix and maintain the bikes.

Community Links: The Bike Hub (location: 6357 Agronomy Road ) serves as a program, research, and educational development outlet where people can access educational programs as well as services. Activities that run out of the Hub include:

  • Tuesday night "Purple and Yellow Work Parties"
  • Wednesday Bike Care Clinics: these night repair clinics are free for members and offer 4 different types of basic repair skills, which follow the same rotation every month.
  • Bike Repair 101: offered on selected Saturdays, it is a comprehensive five-hour crash course in basic bicycle fix-it skills.
  • Special "Women's Bike Repair 101" and other tutorials may be arranged upon request.

The Bike Kitchen (location: Student Union Building (SUB) loading dock, north side of the basement) is a non-profit business that includes a full-service bike repair and retail shop. The Bike Kitchen is modeled on Our Community Bikes in Vancouver , BC . The system offers cyclists the use of tools and equipment to fix their own bikes for an hourly fee of $6.00. Cyclists can also receive the "talking assistance" of a mechanic for $11.00 per hour, fix their own bike with "hands on" help from a mechanic for $17.00 per hour, or have a mechanic fix their bike for $38 per hour. Members receive a 10% discount on new parts. Both new and used parts are sold at competitive prices.

The most popular and well-known aspect of the Bike Co-op is the Purple and Yellow public bike program. Volunteers and students hired with monies from a work-study program, recycle and reuse abandoned and donated bikes in order to turn them into a fleet of bikes members can use to cruise around campus. Over 200 bikes have been built, decorated, and sent out into the lanes of UBC by these members. Bikes are secured to racks using a universal lock system.

Golden Triangle Energy Co-operative

Craig, Missouri, United States of America

Membership: The co-op has 295 members.

Activity: Golden Triangle Energy Cooperative (GTEC) has been formed as a Missouri cooperative in marketing association to construct, equip and operate a 14 million-gallon capacity dry-milling ethanol plant in Craig , Missouri . The co-operative produces 15 million gallons per year. The ethanol is brokered to a company called Murek. The co-product, distillers' dried grain, is brokered to a company called Commodity Speciality and sold to livestock producers located mostly outside the local region.

Organisational Form: Our mission is to profit by adding value to members' agricultural commodities through efficient processing of products demanded by the marketplace. We are committed to the betterment of our members' communities and the creation of meaningful jobs.

Date Formed: The plant began production in February 2001 and today employs 29 people directly.

Area Served: Craig , Missouri (pop. 347) surfaced as a good location because it had the physical characteristics needed for an ethanol plant, namely: 1) a good water supply, 2) access to a natural gas line and 3) a good transportation infrastructure to ship corn to the plant, and to ship the newly-produced ethanol from the plant to market.

History & Structure: The first venture capital commitment for the project was $40,000 (from the Kansas City/St. Joseph, Missouri, Diocese Catholic Charities organization) to promote economic development. Additional venture capital was raised for a total of $180,000.

The St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce provided early assistance to the project with in-kind support such as accounting, office help and general project assistance. The chamber acted as a coordinating body for GTEC and assisted in raising venture capital.

The sale of shares in GTEC has been an active project of board members, assisted by the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. Initial offerings were $12,500 per share. For each share purchased, the shareholder had the right to deliver 5,000 bushels of corn for processing.

Subsequently, shareholders were allowed to add to their investment in increments of $1,000, which increased their delivery rights by 385 bushels. Eighty per cent of shareholders are farmers.

The state of Missouri offered generous incentives for the first 12.5 million gallons produced per year and a lower rate for the next 2.5 million gallons. After five years of operation, the subsidy will terminate. Tax credits for investors in the NGC were also available.

Information was supplied by the GTEC and by a case study published by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (Rodney Fink). Other case studies are available at  www.iira.org.