The cooperative Riedlingen was founded in 1991 and is the oldest of currently 220 care cooperatives in Germany. Because of its successful history it is the best practice case and prime example for countless new initiatives of this kind. Josef Martin, the chairman of the cooperative, has shared his 5 most important tips for the successful establishment of a cooperative in the domain of care and support for older adults with us.
- Develop the basic idea of the cooperative
Right at the beginning it is essential that the idea behind the coop is sufficiently developed. Do not get lost in details but sketch the rough idea and make the core of the cooperative tangible. Generally speaking, the focus of most care cooperatives is the advance of care. This ranges from household chores to the provision of food and driving services.
iCareCoops offers an ideal template for care cooperatives.
- Find like-minded people
Establishing and running a cooperative means a lot of effort. Therefore, it is import to find people who want to actively contribute to the cooperative right from the start. In periodical meetings and discussions with partners it is possible to analyse local constraints and opportunities. Together you can elaborate on the idea and develop the ideal cooperative for your given circumstances.
iCareCoops discussion board makes it very easy for you to find like-minded people.
- Plan financial efforts and resources from the beginning
Although many people would like to ignore it, financing of the cooperative must be considered from the beginning. If you want to have a sustainable and on the long run successful initiative this is key. Josef Martin’s experience is that donations alone are not the best finance model, because they do not ensure regularity. A trust is not a suitable approach either according to his prior experiences. A lot of members are motivated by the independence of the initiative.
Every aspiring founder should apply for start-up capital. Without any funding it is almost impossible to start a coop. In Germany, municipalities are responsible for this (Bavaria is the exception where the country grants start help). When you apply for a start-up support be well prepared. Your coop concept has to be sufficiently developed by then. If you want to heighten your chances Josef Martin recommends to also have a business plan.
The guides and templates of the iCareCoops platform will support you at this stage with valuable recommendations and hints.
- Mind the legal framework
This issue is often overlooked by founders. Especially prior to the establishment of a cooperative it is essential to do research on legal requirements. Many problems can be mitigated in advance if you invest time at the beginning. Due the regional specifics external consulting might prove useful.
iCareCoops guides include an overview of regional contact points for you inquiries.
- Inspire others
Keep in mind: the most important goal is to inspire others with your idea! It is important to convince people around you of the importance of your concept. This applies both to members to boost team spirit as well as to potential members to win them as contributors. Do not forget about external partners and funding bodies!
Do you have any questions for establishing a cooperative in the care or AAL environment? We will gladly try to answer them here.