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222. Connecting a Community One Stitch at a Time

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Coop Name: The Co-operators Group Ltd N° of Employees: 5017
City: Guelph N° of Members: 47
Country: Canada Year of formation: 1945
Website: http://www.cooperators.ca
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About this coop:

The Co-operators is a leading Canadian-owned, multi-product insurance and financial services organization with more than $40.3 billion in assets under administration. Within our three core areas of operation — Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance, Life insurance, and institutional investments — we employ 5,017 staff members. We are supported by 512 exclusive agents with 688 retail outlets, four contact centres and one call centre for our travel insurance business, and an extensive national broker network. We also serve approximately 375 credit unions with a total of more than five million members.

Immigrant women and women living with mental illness are among the most marginalized populations in Canada. Melanie Conn, Common Thread Marketing Coordinator, recognized that a co-op marketing and production structure would provide a way for these women to use their talents to earn income. Common Thread (www.commonthreadcoop.ca/) is a non-profit co-op and its members are community organizations that host sewing programs or support the co-op in other ways. For example, The Kettle’s Sewing Room provides sewing training to employ women with the co-op. Many of the producers have not worked in a structured way and the co-op provides various options for them to build on their strengths. The Co-operators Foundation provided financial assistance in 2010 through its Co-operative Development Program and again in 2011 through its Community Economic Development Fund. Common Thread addresses supply and demand by developing and marketing new items, training producers, and securing large contracts to make delegate bags for conferences and major events. In 2012, a special International Year of Co-operatives bag is being supplied to co-ops and credit unions across Canada.

Author of this story
Mary Lou Schaefer
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