And the Winner is…The Mustard Seed!

The Mustard Seed wins the National Co-op Challenge!

A huge thank you to all our members and supporters for helping us rise to the top in the National Co-op Challenge! We had the most votes of any co-op in our region. We already received our $25,000 cheque from The Co-operators Insurance, the co-op that organizes this annual contest to help emerging and expanding co-ops.  What are we going to do with all that money? Well, right now we have a whole lot of refrigeration, and lighting, and kitchen equipment to buy. This extra boost has allowed us to buy more energy-efficient equipment, which will save us money and the planet’s resources in the years ahead. It also helps us open our doors sooner and keep costs lower for our members.

An amazing team of Volunteers!

We could not have won the National Co-op Challenge without an amazing group of volunteers.  In particular, we would like to thank everyone involved in making this video – even if you didn’t make it into this 90-second version.  In particular, thanks to our production team of Board member Sarah Botham (producer/writer), Jonathon & Ashleigh Patterson (filming/editing), and Jenn Friesen (narrator) from our Membership Action Team for volunteering hundreds of hours to create a very professional video!

What is the National Co-op Challenge?

NatCoopChallengeThe National Co-op Challenge was created in 2012 to engage Canadians in supporting emerging and expanding co-ops across Canada.  Funded by The Co-operators, the format reflects co-ops’ commitment to democratic control of their organizations by their members.  The sixteen finalists chosen from amongst the national applicants each created a short video to share how their co-operative can impact their community. After a month-long online voting period, two co-ops in each region win $25,000, enabling them to expand their businesses.

+ A $25,000 Grant from the Hamilton Future Fund!

Not only were we recognized nationally, we were also recognized in our community from the Hamilton Future Fund with a $25,000 grant! The mission of the Hamilton Future Fund is:

To preserve and manage a permanent, self-sustaining fund (the Hamilton Future Fund) as a lasting legacy for current and future generations of Hamiltonians to enjoy economic prosperity, enhanced social fabric, and enhanced community life.

We are very thankful that the Board of Governors has recognized our vision for social change with this grant! As an engine for local food & agricultural development, we believe The Mustard Seed will pay back to the community with this innovative capital many times over.

We are very excited to have received these two grants, and look forward to all that this will bring in the months ahead!

Vote for us in the National Co-op Challenge!

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Screen shot of Jenn Friesen – The Mustard Seed video was filmed in a variety of locations all across Hamilton

The Mustard Seed has been named as a finalist in The National Co-op Challenge, a national social media contest created by The Co-operators, with $200,000 in prize money to be won. Anyone with a Facebook account or email address can vote between now and October 18, 2013.  Two finalists in each of four regions across Canada will take home $25,000. We hope our local community will help The Mustard Seed Co-op rise to the top!

The Mustard Seed is a community-owned grocery store that offers a bountiful selection of wholesome foods, prioritizes local producers, and creates an educational environment which nurtures the relationship between people and the food they eat. We can’t wait to open our doors before the end of 2013!

Watch & Vote!

Watch our 90-second video and vote for The Mustard Seed! Then please share with your friends, family, colleagues – anyone you think would be excited about The Mustard Seed opening in Hamilton! We have a strong chance of winning $25,000 so please VOTE today!NatCoopChallenge

Follow this link to the National Co-op Challenge / Co-operators Facebook app

If you don’t have a Facebook account, click here to go to the voting microsite. Note: you can vote for The Mustard Seed in the Ontario region. After that, please pick a co-op from the Atlantic & Pacific regions as well. You must select 3 videos (1 from each region) in order to validate your vote. This helps give more exposure to other co-ops.

Membership means Ownership

Once you vote, check out our website for details on the benefits of membership, how you can invest for impact through the Co-op, and our next steps towards opening.  Are you Interested in volunteering? There are many ways to get involved.

A Big Thanks to our Production Team!

We could not have become a finalist in the National Co-op Challenge without an amazing group of community volunteers supporting us.  In particular, we would like to thank everyone involved in making this video – even if you didn’t make it into this 90-second version.  In particular, thanks to our production team of Board member Sarah Botham (producer/writer), Jonathon & Ashleigh Patterson (filming/editing), and Jenn Friesen (narrator) from our Membership Action Team for volunteering hundreds of hours to create a very professional video!

About the National Co-op Challenge

The National Co-op Challenge was created in 2012 to engage Canadians in supporting emerging and expanding co-ops across Canada.  Funded by The Co-operators, the format reflects co-ops’ commitment to democratic control of their organizations by their members.  The sixteen finalists chosen from amongst the national applicants each created a short video to share how their co-operative can impact their community. Two co-ops in each region will each win $25,000, enabling them to expand their businesses.  Good luck to everyone involved in the National Co-op Challenge!

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Financial Update

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Photo from our Investor Info Night at Hotel Hamilton earlier this year

Opening a grocery store takes money!

As we ramp up towards securing a location and opening The Mustard Seed Co-op, raising the money we need is a big part of our focus.  The Mustard Seed is Hamilton’s only co-operative grocery store.  We are part of a growing type of businesses sometimes called “social enterprises” – using sound commercial strategies to maximize benefits other than shareholder profits.  In our case, those benefits include affordable prices on wholesome, local, and organic foods, living wages for staff, and a strong emphasis on social and environmental responsibility.

Contemporary grocery store options are dominated by large national and multinational brands. These companies deliver goods and services many customers want, but much of their profits leave our local economy.  The Mustard Seed is quite different; we are intentionally seeking ways to strengthen our local economy through the relationships forged with farmers, producers, and suppliers.  In doing so, we have a multiplier effect on local economic activity.  Food co-ops typically generate 1.6 times their own revenue in local economic impact according to recent research.

Members Investing

All Mustard Seed Co-op members are investing in our business and local economy through their $100 membership fee.  However, many members are looking for more ways to invest financially in local businesses that align with their values–rather than solely for economic gain.  The Mustard Seed has already enabled members to invest over $210,000 towards opening our grocery store.  In the months ahead, we hope to raise another $300,000 through local impact investors.  Can you see yourself investing for impact?

The Hamilton Future Fund

Impact investing in the Mustard Seed isn’t limited to individuals or Co-op members.  We have applied for a grant or repayable loan from the Hamilton Future Fund and will present to their Board on September 6th. The Future Fund was established,

To preserve and manage a permanent, self-sustaining fund as a lasting legacy for current and future generations of Hamiltonians to enjoy economic prosperity, enhanced social fabric, and enhanced community life.

The Mustard Seed Co-op is an example of a viable business model that enables the social and economic thriving our community needs. We will keep you updated on our pitch to the Future Fund in the weeks ahead.

The National Co-op Challenge

Our business model does not rely heavily on grants, but we sure do appreciate them when we get them.  On September 18th, The Co-operators launches the National Co-op Challenge 2013, and we are among the 16 national finalists.  We have a 1:2 chance of winning $25,000 towards our equipment costs, so get ready to vote for The Mustard Seed in a few weeks!

Hamilton may have its economic challenges, but for centuries the co-operative model has proven effective in empowering prosperity.  So if you are looking to create local impact with your investment choices, consider The Mustard Seed Co-op – because even something small can have an incredible effect.