Bridge for Health Cooperative Association is a start up social enterprise that focuses on three core service areas: community capacity building, advocacy/influencing and research & consulting.
Why a social enterprise? After almost four years of dialogue and consultation with community members, thought leaders in public health and business, NGOs and government agencies, as well as students and academics around the world, we have come to understand the power of using business as a force for good health. Our model will allow us to generate funding from our consulting and research streams, in order to channel profits back to support the sustainability of our advocacy and community capacity building work.
Why social innovation? Social innovation is ultimately about disruption of beliefs, systems and structures in order to create something new. We are disrupting beliefs about health as we are moving away from a medical model to a wellbeing model. We are also disrupting beliefs about who is holder of knowledge about our health, and who is responsible for health across sectors beyond health-care.
Why a co-op? We believe that a co-op model best fits our collective leadership approach, our values about empowerment, and our approach to collaboration and engagement. The BC Co-op Association notes that co-operative organizations differ from other businesses in three key ways:
A Different Purpose: Co-ops and credit unions meet the common needs of their members, whereas most investor-owned businesses exist to maximize profit for shareholders.
A Different Control Structure: Co-ops and credit unions use a system of one-member/one-vote, not one-vote-per-share. This helps them to serve common interests and to ensure that people, not capital, control the organization.
A Different Allocation of Profit: Co-ops and credit unions share profits among their member-owners on the basis of how much they use the organization, not on how many shares they hold.