A cooperative business is an organization owned and controlled by its members, who also use the services and products of the cooperative. Examples of different successful cooperatives in Alberta include financial institutions (e.g. credit unions), retail stores (e.g. Mountain Equipment Co-op), and agriculture cooperatives (e.g. UFA).
A community investment cooperative (CIC) is a for-profit business that can provide members with a return on their investment. By issuing shares, an investment co-op like the McCauley Development Cooperative allows people to pool funds for opportunities that stand to benefit the local community.
People can invest with cash or by transferring their existing RRSPs or TFSAs into self-directed savings (at which point they become members of the Cooperative and part-owners of the investment property). The result is a cost-effective, locally-owned partnership that leads to stronger local economy.
CICs are a relatively-new phenomenon, but many successful CICs have already been formed in Canada; you can learn more at the website of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network.