Co-op & Community
What is a cooperative?
A cooperative is a business owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Any profits may go back into the Co-op, up to 80% in operations and 20% 0r more in a Co-op held member equity account. Everyone can shop, however, Member- Owners steer the use of their resources by running for a seat on the board of directors, voting in elections, attending annual meetings and providing input. Working together, we achieve healthy food choices and economic development, and, preserve the uniqueness of Waimanalo.
The Waimanalo Market Co-op, a consumer-owned cooperative association – a for-profit cooperative business, non-stock option pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes chapter 421C, has 77 Members, 12 pledges and seeks additional Members. The Co-op business is distinct from other for-profits. The Co-op board may use a per cent of profits to sustain and grow the Co-op, and the remaining profits are held in a member-equity account to leverage loans and other resources needed to sustain the co-op business. The Waimanalo Market Co-op is based on key values, cooperative principles and the bottom-line goals of member service, self-sufficiency and economic, social and health prosperity community-wide.
WMC is a community-driven consumer cooperative, owned by its members. The WMC benefits all facets of the community value and local food system chain by: 1) increasing the number of viable local food producers; 2) providing markets for local farmers to sell their produce; 3) enabling buyers to access healthy and nutritious food while providing income to farmers and their families; 4) enabling local entrepreneurs to add value to locally grown produce; 5) reducing reliance on food imports to Hawaii; and 6) enhancing community access to a traditionally used and nutritious diet.
Keys to Success – Community Partnerships
Waimānalo is uniquely situated for the success of a consumer co-op business model because of its agricultural lands and entrepreneurial residents who routinely demonstrate the ability to membership volunteers and investment, member and community word-of-mouth networks, and pairing local produce with local made value-added and arts, have been essential ingredients for success to date. Increasing support for small farmers to grow produce is important to ensure abundance of produce and saleable products to sell.
In addition to working with numerous Waimānalo-based small farmers and home growers, WMC is working closely with the Windward Community College “Go Farm” program, the University of Hawaii’s Waimānalo agriculture research station, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Other key partners include the Waimānalo Health Center (e.g. anti -obesity / healthy foods), Feed the Hunger Project (technical assistance to farmers), the Waimānalo Job Corps (e.g. youth training), and other Waimānalo businesses. The WMC has received a wide diversity of pro bono legal, architectural, technical, and fiscal assistance (e.g. Kohala Center, SCORE).