Development Model

The Food Co-op Initiative Development Model was developed by Cooperative Development Services, a partner with NCB and National Cooperative Grocers in designing this program. All three organizations believe that this model, if followed by the applicant, will result in a greater chance for success.

4 in 3 development model graphic

The model is based upon the four cornerstones of vision, talent, capital, and systems that are each within three stages of food co-op development: organizing, feasibility and planning, and finally implementation. The four cornerstones and their three stages comprise a process for developing a cooperative retail food business. This process recognizes the need for support systems along the journey and seeks to provide assistance to approved applicants during the various stages. As a griup works through the steps of each stage, they use the cornerstones to weigh decidions and planning.

Four Cornerstones

The four cornerstones in the Food Co-op Initiative Development Model are Vision, Capital, Talent, and Systems. Each is critical to the success of a new cooperative and supported with assistance of the program and use of the model throughout the process. You may also download an expanded version of this outline.

I. Vision: “The articulation of hopes and dreams of a founding group”

  • Broad, Long-term, Inspiring and
  • Specific and Local
  • Refined as the emerging co-op moves through the development stages
  • Includes the co-op as a solution to a common problem or need
  • Core values and purpose
  • A vision of the process of developing a food coop

II. Talent: “Those invested in the co-op’s success”

  • Champion(s)
  • Steering Committee or Task force
  • Board of Directors
  • Developer
  • Management (Development Project Manager, Facility Project Manager, General Manager)

III. Capital: “Financial resources necessary for all stages of development”

  • Organizing
  • Feasibility
  • Business Planning
  • Implementation
  • Sustaining (recover and reinvest)
  • Internal resources are used to leverage external resources

IV. Systems: “Organized, integrated, coordinated, and interdependent methods”

  • Legal
  • Governing
  • Planning & assessment
  • Communication and Marketing
  • Finance & Accounting
  • Operations
  • Commitment to continuous improvement
  • Systems become more complex through the stages

Three Development Stages

Stage I: Organizing
Emerging Co-op: Brings about the organization

  • One or more people start with an idea
  • Recognition of a common problem or need that a food co-op could meet
  • Includes
    • Convening a core group
    • Assessing common interest and needs
    • Designating leadership
    • Building a shared vision
    • Committing time and money
  • Brings about the organization

Stage II: Feasibility & Planning
Emerging Co-op: Brings about the operation

  • An organized group with commitment, interest and capacity
  • Assesses market potential and internal readiness
  • Includes
    • Feasibility – deeper assessments of financial, market and organizational capacity
    • Planning – a business plan for financing and operations
  • Builds commitment and capacity (both leadership and management)
  • Brings about a secured site for the operation

Stage III: Implementation
Emerging Co-op: Brings satisfaction of owner/member needs

  • Demonstrated capacity in all the cornerstones
  • Includes
    • Preconstruction
    • Construction & Renovation
    • Preparation for Opening
    • Sustaining - First Year and Beyond
  • Brings about the satisfaction of member needs