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History Check App Potential Cooperative Structure
Background & Summary

Sheila Willis developed the History Check mobile app as a social enterprise with the intent to share Alberta’s history, and promote rural communities. The foundations of the app are set, and it is ready to expand across Canada, North America and beyond. It has grown to a point that to expand it, and benefit those in the heritage and tourism sectors, it needs more than Sheila can provide. 

 

The app project has brought together a large number of collaborators and supporters from the heritage and tourism sector, and in light of its current status, the logical solution is to put it into their hands as a cooperative. The idea is, to date, has been well accepted, but is still in its infancy. Changes may be made to this page as it prgoresses, and more input is given.

If you are unfamiliar with the app and its basic functions you can see a summary here.

More About Cooperatives

In short, cooperatives are owned by their members and they have a say in how the cooperative progresses. They are made up of people or organziations with the same goal - in this case those with an interest in heritage and tourism.

 

Resource Links: 

  1. Cooperatives First

  2. Open Alberta - Consumer Tips - Cooperative Act 

  3. Province of Alberta - Cooperatives Act (The Act)

  4. Guidance Notes from International Cooperative Alliance 

  5. Cooperatives in Canada

The Basic Plan in Forming A Cooperative

Step 1: Incorporate as a Federal Cooperative

Alberta would be the first chapter, with each subsequent province or region forming another chapter. Initially Alberta would act as the federal chapter, until other provinces came on board. Each province would then become a chapter and run independently of each other.

Step 2: Members 

Member would be those from the heritage and tourism sectors. Any number of type of memberships could be formed; participating members, DMO's, governing bodies etc. Each type of membership would have a different fee amount that could be annual or lifetime.

For now, let's focus on participating members - those with a space that welcomes guests, in both the business and not for profit sectors. They would be the ones who would qualify for a listing on the History Check app. I propose an annual membership fee of $250 per organization. This would essentially be advertising, but as members, they could get member dividends (cash back),  at the end of the year depending on any surplus funds the cooperative has. 

Their membership would include one site listing with the images, links, logos and an average amount of keywords that drive the search engine. They can buy more keywords at a rate set by members. If the member has more than one location they can buy another listing at a rate set by members.  Both keywords and locations increased the funds of cooperative, and would increase the amount each member may receive at the end of the year.

The goal is a minimum of 2,000 participating members from the heritage sector and any business that serves travellers in the province.

Step 3: Expenses Comparison

In planning the cooperative there is a rough budget of $500,000 a year. This includes online fees, upgrading and improving the app, and hiring the necessary people to operative it efficiently.

In comparison, in the starting year, with a Participating Member Annual Fee of $250 consider the following:

  • 200 Members = $50,000 - This amount will cover the app upgrades and, using contract labor, will get the ball rolling on business plans and increasing membership.

  • 1,000 Members - $250,000 - more people are hired and promotion completed as the membership goes up. In the first year 

  • 2,000 Members - $500,000 the first year estimated budget is satisfied.

  • Throughout the process of gaining new members, contracting staff, and performing daily duties, the cooperative is able to form / alter the business model to best suit member needs. 

Ownership:

Sheila Willis owns the copyright and intellectual copyrights to the History Check mobile app and related products. She would sell or lease it to the cooperative for an affordable  set cost per membership for both her and her former business partner. This prevents the outlay of cash while the cooperative starts up.

Sheila would be contracted to transition the app to the cooperative, sharing her knowledge, concepts and other information for as long as needed. She would continue to promote it in her usual way.

In a determined amount of time after the cooperative is established, she requires the cooperative sets up a foundation to provide forgivable loans or grants to cooperative members for their projects or to further the advancement of the cooperative. This is to satisfy one of her long term goals when creating the app.

Your Opinion:

Bssed on what you have read please fill out this questionnairre, and include any comments or ideas you may have. 

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