New directory connect communities with cooperatives
By Ontario Cooperative Association
A new online database allows people to search for cooperatives based on location, product or service. There are 1300 cooperatives, credit unions and caisses populaires in Ontario which provide services in agriculture, child care, finances, and housing. The e-directory is the first ever effort to assemble co-op information in one place.
April 28, 2008
Guelph, Ont. – More than 400 communities in Ontario are home to at least one co-operative or credit union. And now it's easier than ever to locate a co-operative based on location, product or service, thanks to an online searchable database. The e-directory (as it is called) assembles basic information on each of the province's 1300 co-ops, credit unions and caisses populaires. The e-directory can be accessed through www.coopsontario.com/.
"The e-directory is a co-op resource and a source of information on the breadth, scope, diversity and location of Ontario co-operatives," said Mark Ventry, membership and communications manager at the Ontario Co-operative Association, creator of the online database. For the first time co-op information of this nature has been assembled in one place, and made so easily accessible.
The e-directory allows users to search for a specific co-op, find co-ops in their community or browse through a number of co-operative categories with just a few clicks of a mouse.
"The keyword search is a handy way to find what you're looking for," said Mark Ventry, "just type in a word, phrase or city name and the e-directory presents you with a list of co-op matches." In addition to searching a database of names and cities, the keyword feature explores every co-op's description, a 50-word summary of the organizations products, services or mission.
The e-directory has proven to be a hit with co-operatives, government, schools and the general public, with more than 4300 visits since it was launched. "We've been blown away by the popularity of the e-directory," said Mark Ventry, "We are getting notes or comments almost daily." He adds that interest in the entire co-operative movement has been increasing over the last few years as individuals and organizations embrace local ownership and sustainable solutions.
The e-directory has already had a number of enhancements since it was launched in February 2008. Directions and a map to each co-op are now available at the click of a mouse, and a secure e-mail feature allows messages to be sent without the fear of spam. The main search page of the directory was recently updated, which added more colour and graphics to the category search function. The e-directory is managed and owned by the Ontario Co-operative Association, an organization that develops, unites and promotes co-operatives throughout the province of Ontario. Funding for the e-directory project was provided in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Agricultural Adaptation Council.
ONTARIO'S CO-OPERATIVES – QUICK FACTS
The numbers: 1300 co-operatives, credit unions & caisses populaires; 1900 locations; $30 billion in assets;
16,500 employees; 1.4 million members; governed by 10,000 volunteer board members.
Provincial breakdown: 50% of all co-ops are located in central Ontario; 25% in south-western Ontario; 15% in eastern Ontario; and 10% in northern Ontario.
Sector breakdown: 6% of all co-ops are involved in Agriculture; 17% are involved in Child Care; 17% are involved in Financial Services; and 45% are involved in Housing. Co-ops in all other sectors comprise the remaining 15%.