Unity in action: The power of co-operatives in community-building.

Vancity has played an active role in BC’s co-operative economy since 1946, when fourteen Vancouverites started an open-bond credit union that anyone could join.

As a financial co-operative, Vancity has always been laser-focused on serving members’ needs. Vancity’s very first loan was to a woman—a bold decision when loaning money to women was relatively uncommon.

Vancity’s co-operative values continue to shape our actions today as we contribute to BC’s growing solidarity economy, which includes a range of organizations and initiatives committed to participatory democracy, co-operative and public ownership, and respect for the earth.

Building a co-operative legacy.

The history of financial co-operatives in BC is rich and varied. A key moment in our history was the 1971 merger with BC Unity Credit Union. As the only Black-owned financial institution in BC, BCUCU championed financial literacy for Vancouver's Black community.

Today, we continue this legacy by supporting Black Arts Centre (BLAC), a co-op gallery for young Black artists, promoting financial inclusion for refugees, and actively allying with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Sharing to create the future we want.

Every year we share 30% of our net profits with our members and communities through the Shared Success Program. In 2022, Vancity disbursed $1.55 million in multi-year operational grants to strengthen the local and Canadian co-operative sector.

Among the grant recipients are the co-operative incubators Union Cooperative Initiative and Solid State Community Industries.

Solid State helps racialized youth migrants and refugees start worker co-operatives and social enterprises. Their vision is to build a solidarity economy starting in Surrey.

Union Co-operative Initiative (UCI) is a non-profit co-operative located in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. UCI helps community-minded entrepreneurs identify opportunities for new co-ops, guides the development of their legal and co-operative structure, and fosters them as they scale and grow their businesses.

UCI’s member co-ops are launched with the support of partner labour unions to create jobs that are both community-affirming and sustainable. Some groups may form a worker co-operative, and others may choose to become a community service co-op or platform co-op, depending which model best serves their needs. The UCI incubator program is working with 10 active co-operatives and, as an indication of UCI’s ambition to grow the local co-operative economy, there are another 33 in development.

Mutual support.

Vancity supports the tradition of co-operation among co-ops, from participation in co-operative and credit union associations to patronizing co-operative businesses. We work to strengthen the BC co-operative sector through grant programs, strategic partnerships, and advocacy.

And, we offer specialized business banking services and borrowing support through our Co-op Banking Hubs in three community branches: Newton, Guildford and Surrey City Centre.

Vancity recognizes the positive impact co-operatives have on local economies, promoting inclusivity and shared prosperity. Moving forward, we are dedicated to nurturing these collaborative initiatives, believing that by supporting co-operatives, we contribute to the overall well-being and economic vitality of the communities we serve.

Did you know?

In 2020, Canadian co-operatives generated $48.6 billion in total revenue and paid $2.6 billion in salaries and wages.


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