In 2015, the Bank committed £1m towards co-operative development, in a deal that would see Co-operatives UK delivering a range of programmes.
The Hive, which launches today (29 February), is aimed at people wanting to set up co-operative or community enterprises, and will also support the development of the existing 7,000 independent UK co-op businesses. Using a mix of online resources, training, advice and peer mentoring, the programme will cover key issues such as registration, membership development and co-operative finance.
The website, www.thehive.coop, includes sections where people and communities at different stages of setting up or developing their co-operative or social business can apply for advice and support. There are also tools, templates and checklists for organisations to work through, from Business Planning to Buyouts and Conversions, and a list of preferred providers who offer one-to-one and group advice for the Hive programme.
“This is just phase one of the programme, but alongside training and advice, it already offers what we think may be the most comprehensive online guide to starting and growing a co-operative out there,” said Ed Mayo, secretary general at Co-operatives UK.
An online co-operative community launching in April will further unite member-owned businesses across the country by creating networking and business development opportunities.
The launch of the Hive comes as research from Co-operatives UK highlights evidence of people’s discontentment with the amount of control they have over the economy, their workplaces and their local communities.
The research, brought together in the Co-operative Option report, found that 59% of people feel they have no control over the economy; 62% said the same for the businesses they use; and 68% of people in work feel they have no control in their workplace (a 10% rise since last year).
Over 70% of people surveyed liked (or were involved in) the idea of clubbing together with other people to save a local service or asset, and 69% of people would like their library, leisure centre or family’s elderly care provider to be a co-operative. 68% said the same for their supermarket and healthcare provider.
While almost two thirds (62%) of people see co-operative businesses as fair, only one in ten (11%) say the same of plcs.
“Our research shows that there is increasing disillusionment at the lack of control people have over the economy, their local area and their workplaces,” said Mr Mayo. “However, it highlights how people also see co-operatives as an alternative way to have some influence over everything from what happens at their local leisure centre to the content of their preferred TV channel.”
Niall Booker, chief executive at the Co-operative Bank. commented: “We now have a combination of public support for co-ops, a dynamic sector and now an innovative business support programme, which can help boost an important part of the economy.”
He added: “This partnership brings our [ethical] commitment to life by providing funding over the next three years to launch and promote ‘The Hive’ in order to provide resources and expertise to help existing and new co-operatives grow and flourish.”
Last year the Co-operative Bank launched an extended Ethical Policy that focused on human rights, ecological sustainability, international development, animal welfare, and support for various types of social enterprise, including co-operatives. However the Bank has recently come under fire for closing the accounts of solidarity organisations in Palestine, Cuba and Nicaragua, citing legal obligations and their inability to complete due diligence checks in high risk areas.
- The deadline to apply for one-to-one or group advice, and peer mentoring is 13 June 2016. More information can be found here.
In this article
- co-op development
- Co-operative Development
- co-operative finance
- CO-OPERATIVE Group
- Co-operatives UK
- Ed Mayo
- Niall Booker
- online co-operative community
- Palestinian territories
- Secretary General
- The Co-operative Bank
- United Kingdom
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