Sangudo Opportunity Development Co-op

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The Continuing Story of the SODC
The Sangudo Opportunity Development Co-op (SODC) is an investment co-op, incorporated on May 7, 2010. Formed with the idea of accessing local dollars to fund community development, its mission is to support and facilitate the development of businesses and projects which enhance the social and/or economic well-being of the Sangudo community. The intent of SODC is not to own and manage businesses but to support entrepreneurs to run their own businesses in the Sangudo community. Because young entrepreneurs may not have access to enough capital to purchase the business, SODC fills that need, not as lender but as landlord. To qualify, entrepreneurs must be SODC members. Supported projects have to fit with the things that matter to the community; and the board considers how the project will affect the long term well being of the community. The point is that they aren’t simply looking for projects with a good economic return on investment, but one that provides a social return on investment as well.
Their first project was to help two of their founding members acquire the local abattoir. The SODC owns the building and are paid a monthly rent, plus a quarterly bonus of 6% of gross revenues. The entrepreneurs then also have the option of purchasing the land and buildings in three years at a pre-agreed price. But the SODC hasn’t been resting on its laurels since helping get Sangudo Custom Meat Packers up and running. With declining membership, the Royal Canadian Legion was selling its iconic building on main street in Sangudo. In the fall of 2011, the SODC helped two of its members purchase it, renovate and turn it into the Connections Coffee House, which opened for business just prior to Christmas. This business isn’t just a place to get a fresh, homemade soup and sandwich, but also serves as a social gathering point, helping create and maintain social capital within the community. They are now looking at bringing in monthly entertainment.

In early December of 2011, Sangudo Custom Meat Packers, with its business growing rapidly, had an opportunity to access Growing Forward grant funding to renovate and re-equip their sausage kitchen and to install a safe and humane animal handling system. Needing to provide matching dollars for the upgrades, they turned to SODC who collected another $110,000 to provide the needed funds. Renovations are nearing completion in this state of the art facility and the business is set for further growth.

As the first two projects have taken off, several business owners in the community have approached the SODC about succession help. They want to retire soon but have no plan in place for what happens to their business. The local veterinarian practice is one such business. The SODC has been working with the veterinarians to put the word out through vet schools and journals and they are hopeful about a recent connection which has been made..

The SODC is open to new members. They started with 22 and are up to 25. But because it isn’t merely an investment vehicle but a community development vehicle, they are careful to ensure that people who join share the vision of developing the Sangudo community.

As word gets out about the success of the SODC, Dan Ohler, board chair has been contacted by people from the United States and the United Kingdom asking what Sangudo has done and how they are doing it. The folks in Sangudo haven’t just provided a model for rural Alberta communities, but one for rural communities across the globe.

Partially because of the success of SODC, the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association has been approved by the Rural Alberta Development Fund to administer Unleashing Local Capital. The program will initially work with 3 pilot communities to develop their own Community Investment Fund (similar to SODC). Through this process, an Unleashing Local Capital Guide and province-wide support system will be developed to support any community to replicate the model and rejuvenate the economic infrastructure in their own community. This will be a legacy program to support hundreds of communities across Alberta to participate in their own success.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Humaira Irshad.
This document is maintained by Stacey Tames.
This information published to the web on June 21, 2012.