Understanding Cooperatives

UNIT 7óMini Cooperative Business Experience

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Printable Documents Unit 7

Teaching Tools
Instructor Discussion Guide
Handout 7.1 - Planning Meeting Agenda
Handout 7.2 - Articles of Incorporation
Handout 7.3 - Bylaws
Handout 7.4 - Ideas for Cooperative Projects and Activities
Handout 7.5 - Committee Work Descriptions
Handout 7.6 - Organizational Meeting Agenda
Handout 7.7 - First Board Meeting Agenda
Handout 7.8 - Vacancy Announcement (general manager position)
Handout 7.9 - Application Form (for manager position)
Handout 7.10 - Agenda for Membership  and Board Meetings
Handout 7.11 - Membership Meeting Ideas
Handout 7.12 - Stock Certificate Example
Handout 7.13 - Membership Certificates
Handout 7.14 - Treasurer's Report
Handout 7.15 - Operating Statement
Handout 7.16 - Balance Sheet
Handout 7.17 - Final Meeting Agenda
Unit 7 PowerPoint Slides
Seventeen slides correspond to the Handouts.

Teacher References
CIR 7: How to Start a Cooperative

Student References
CIR 7: How to Start a Cooperative

Video Reference
How to Start a Cooperative (VHS Color, 31 minutes)


Unit 7 - Mini Cooperative Business Experience


The objective of this unit is for the student to acquire a basic knowledge and understanding of economic and business principles through the use of a "Learn By Doing" activity.

After completion, the student should:

1. Have a basic understanding of how to organize and operate a business.

2. Be familiar with the basic legal and financial documents needed to operate a cooperative business.

3. Have a basic understanding of how a cooperative functions and operates.

4. Be aware of how economic concepts apply to her/'his life.

Instructor Directions

1. Become familiar with the instructional information provided as well as the suggested reference materials.

2. Lead the activity using the handouts and/or suggested references. Follow the
    discussion guide questions and outline.

3. To maximize the learning experience, the instructor must act as a consultant to the business. This means the students must make the decisions and NOT the instructor. Thus, to demonstrate and make economic and business principles "come alive," the instructor must allow the students to make mistakes.

4. One of the roles the instructor should play is that of the government. The instructor is responsible for determining the environment in which the MINI COOPERATIVE must operate. Before organizing the MINI COOPERATIVE, the instructor must decide what rules or guidelines are necessary to conduct this activity. These rules or guidelines become laws that must be followed. As the activity progresses, the instructor may need to change or add laws as the situation warrants. This is one of the ways the instructor may program in various problems and situations that demonstrate economic and business principles. It prevents the simulation from becoming unrealistic.

NOTE: Make laws only when they are absolutely necessary to maintain good public relations in keeping the MINI COOPERATIVE within educational goals. The instructor must be able to distinguish between decisions made by the students that are acceptable and are not acceptable. It is important that students be permitted to make mistakes. Often mistakes provide valuable educational lessons for the participants.

Some of the "laws" you might want to consider are:
          1. Eligibility for membership (target audience).
          2. Age students must be to be elected and serve on the board of directors.
          3. How long the MINI COOPERATIVE will operate.
          4. Type and/or extent of activities the cooperative will undertake.
          5. Financial reports required.
          6. Limits on profits, patronage refunds, and dividends.  

Developed by: Rural Development - Cooperative Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Cooperative Programs Website