This week on Everything Co-op, Bijiibah Begaye discusses building an ecosystem that supports indigenous co-ops

Bijiibah Begaye is co-director of the Cooperative Catalyst of New Mexico.

Tune in to WOL 1450 AM, 95.9 FM and WOL Live Stream on Thursday, December 22 at 10:30 am EST for Everything Co-op, hosted by Vernon Oakes. This week, Vernon interviews Bijiibah Begaye, co-director of the Cooperative Catalyst of New Mexico (CCNM), with her colleagues from Ukwakhwa and Montana Cooperative Development Foundation.

Bijiibah and her colleagues will discuss programs and partnerships that have been developed through the Cooperative Catalyst of New Mexico toward creating an ecosystem that truly supports Indigenous cooperatives and cooperative developers in the Navajo Nation.

In addition to serving as the co-director of CCNM, Bijiibah Begaye also serves as vice president of the Board of Directors at CooperationWorks!, a cooperative development network. Bijiibah is a true believer in supporting the Navajo community at every stage of development. She has previously served as program director for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, and as executive director of Tse Ko Community Development Corporation. In addition to her work experience, her biggest influences come from being raised in Coalmine Mesa on the Navajo Nation where her family has managed Staggered Hearts Ranch for over 40 years.

The Cooperative Catalyst of New Mexico serves as a resource for individuals, groups, companies and other organizations in New Mexico that are interested in forming, converting to or growing cooperatives. In the past year in collaboration with the Cooperative Development Foundation and Minnesota Indigenous Business Alliance, CCNM has created an Indigenous Cooperative Curriculum and has already run a number of cohorts through the training program. In the coming year, in partnership with the Democracy and Work Institute and Seven Roots, CCNM will launch a feasibility study for a grocery co-op with the Indigenous farming cooperatives it has been working with. In 2023, CCNM will also be focusing its training on Indigenous cooperative statutes as a real need for established and emerging cooperative developers.

Everything Co-op Host Vernon Oakes is a past president of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, and he has served on several boards and committees to advance the interests of cooperatives. He also served on the Limited Equity Cooperative Task Force, established by Anita Bonds, at-large member of the Council of the District of Columbia. Vernon is an MBA graduate of Stanford University, who has used his business acumen to benefit the community by promoting the added value of the cooperative business model.

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