Many of us have heard of co-ops, but do you actually know what one is?
A co-op is a business or organisation that’s owned and controlled by its members, to meet their shared needs. The members can be its customers, employees, residents or suppliers, who have a say in how the co-op is run.
Every co-op across the world shares the same co-operative principles and values . These are very aligned to the principles of B-Corps and a movement the B-Corp community like to support. Loving the cooperative values in your business is key to success as we come out of the COVID pandemic.
Co-ops are owned by the people closest to the business, not distant investors only interested in a financial return. These are typically the workers, customers or local community. This means co-ops focus not just on making a profit, but how they made it and what they do with it to bring value to their members and community.
All kinds of businesses operate co-operatively. There are co-operative pubs, energy suppliers, taxi firms, bookstores, community gardens, wine sellers, farmers and sports clubs.
The facts – it’s a movement on a roll …
A new generation of co‑operators
In a recent YouGov poll undertaken by Cooperatives UK they found that 18‑24 year‑olds are more likely to be able to name three or more co‑ops than those in older age groups, demonstrating a real interest in this way of trading.
The same poll shows that co‑operative businesses that are democratically owned and run by their members, may have an advantage over other types of business. This comes at a time when businesses are battling for survival and more and more consumers expect businesses to operate ethically.
There’s so much demand for co‑operatives to help solve problems and that’s why everyone’s talking about them.ROSE MARLEY, CEO, CO‑OPERATIVES UK
In ‘Positive News’, 76% of the British public would prefer to buy products and services from businesses that demonstrate positive community impact. There is a demand for the co‑operative movement to demonstrate how, and to provide a way through the noise.
There’s so much demand for co‑operatives to help solve problems and that’s why everyone’s talking about them.
Cooperatives are key to help us build back better
In the Cooperative UK podcast More Than a Shop podcast we came to understand how co‑operatives like The Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative, turned to co‑operative principles to inform their business response to Covid‑19 by providing free repairs for key workers. Their example shows how everyone needs solid guidance when the world feels like its teetering on the edge.
Cooperatives can provide the opportunities everyone is looking for, to build back better. The cooperative movement has been going for 175 years, so they know a thing or two about making business work, for the benefit of all.
Women in leadership winning in Coops
There are so many women in key roles in Cooperative including Debbie Robinson (Central England Co‑op) and Jo Whitfield (CEO of Co‑op Food) This demonstrates the progressive nature of Coops and it is well documented that the wider social enterprise sector has more women in leadership roles at present. This figure is growing with 41% of social enterprises led by women and Co‑operatives UK is one of them.
A co‑operative renaissance?
The housing crisis, the gig economy, digital platforms, AI, Automation, biometrics, nano technology, global climate change, a global pandemic, Brexit – we’re not without challenges in the UK. But we have a real opportunity here, the co‑operative movement is due a renaissance.
Want to know more? Visit cooperatives UK website or get in touch and we can chat about how you can be the business the world needs.