The Co-operative Bank is continuing to back the Hive, a support programme for co-ops, extending it until the end of 2020.
Delivered by Co-operatives UK, the Hive was initially launched in 2016 as a £1m programme spread over three years. The Bank will now provide an additional £300,000 by December 2020.
Through the programme, co-operatives can access free online resources and tailored one-to-one support on specific areas such as business planning or governance. Groups considering setting up a co-op can also receive help with registering and launching their business by attending free workshops and receiving mentoring from over 1,000 experienced co-ops.
So far, the scheme has helped over 500 groups and co-ops with specialist support and training. Co-operatives UK estimates that over 1,200 groups and co‑ops will get help from the Hive by the end of 2020.
In addition to providing co-operative development support, the Hive will also help co-ops raise a projected £6.5m of finance through community shares. The initiative aims to enable communities to take control of valued local assets that would otherwise have been lost.
“Co‑operatives UK – and the wider co-operative sector – welcome the additional funding from the Co-operative Bank to extend this vital support for co-ops,” said Ed Mayo, secretary general at Co‑operatives UK. “If we want to see a successful economy – where more people have a say in decision-making and receive a fair share – then we need more co-operatives.
“Since launching, the Hive has provided support at several crucial stages in the life of a co‑operative and the fact that this support can continue for an additional two years is a huge boost for the sector.”
Ryan Etchells, head of business banking at the Co‑operative Bank, added: “We’re proud to continue to fund The Hive programme and support co‑operative businesses as they develop and grow into successful and sustainable businesses in the current economic climate. The Hive is a great initiative and one that we hope will encourage more individuals and groups to set out on the path of starting up their own co-operative business.
October Books of Southampton, a not-for-profit co-operative radical neighbourhood bookshop, was one one of the groups receiving support from the Hive. Member Jessica Haynes said: “The Hive’s support has enabled us to embark on a new chapter in the story of October Books and has given us the confidence to be more proactive as a business. We’ve taken on two new employees, one to help with day to day operations and another to focus on social media and marketing. We’ve also been more community focussed and hosted a number of successful events – and strengthened our links with local connections.”
Organiclea, a worker co-operative growing food on London’s edge in the Lea Valley, also benefited from advice through the Hive. Member Marlene Barrett said: “The support we received through The Hive has been excellent and enabled us to effectively review our governance arrangements and processes so that we can take the next steps in our continued expansion.”
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