Co-ops UK seeks providers for business support programme

In 2015, Co-operatives UK and the Co-operative Bank announced a £1m partnership to help develop and grow co-ops over a three-year period. The Co-operative Development Support Programme is...

In 2015, Co-operatives UK and the Co-operative Bank announced a £1m partnership to help develop and grow co-ops over a three-year period. The Co-operative Development Support Programme is now looking to recruit providers to offer business support and training through the initiative.

Co-operatives UK, the country’s apex body for co-operative and mutual enterprises, says the programme will: focus on helping co-operatives and communities nationwide; be dynamic and adaptable; and “be responsive to feedback and to issues identified in the forthcoming Co-operative Development Strategy consultation”.

The initiative intends to offer comprehensive online co-operative business advice and guidance, peer mentoring and group training sessions, covering key issues such as registration, membership development and finance, and is currently looking to establish a preferred provider list to deliver this work.

Over the three years, external providers will be required to help deliver up to 535 days of support to co-operatives, through:

  • Online advice portal
  • Online community
  • Peer mentoring
  • One-to-one advice
  • Cluster advice
  • Co-operative skills training sessions

Other areas of the programme, such as peer mentoring and skills training sessions, will be contracted separately.

For one-to-one advice, the programme is looking for 400 days of tailored support over three years for a very small number of co-ops or prospective co-ops (approximately 100 clients over three years), focused on becoming a co-op; employee buyouts; community shares; sustainability/growing co-ops and strategic planning. The cluster advice will be in the form of output-focused workshops for a small number of co-ops at the same time, servicing around 600 co-ops over the three years.

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