The co-operative business model is a tried and tested means of business succession and is becoming increasingly popular in rural Canada as a way for small business owners to sell their businesses and ensure their legacies live on. According to a CIBC report in November 2013:

One-fifth of small businesses (250,000) with employees have owners aged 55 and over. This number has risen by 4% a year over the past decade, more than doubling the historical rate and close to 30% of current small business owners (310,000) will want to exit their businesses by 2017. Within a decade, 50% (550,000) will want to exit. [1]

By using the co-operative business model, employees and/or community members improve their chances of success in assuming a business. By pooling knowledge, skills and resources, the costs and work involved in a business transition is shared among a group of people, increasing its changes for success.

The Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick and its Francophone sister organization, la Coopérative de développement régional-Acadie (CDR-A) are both actively involved in the development of business succession strategies and have developed services, produced resources, and sit on various committees related to best practices in rural business succession planning. CDR-A has helped save seven businesses in the last three years by succeeding them into co-ops and is currently developing a French incubator/accelerator with multiple partners to build communities’ capacity for co-operative business succession.

 

[1] CIBC In Focus, November 12, 2013