Heart of England Co-op has invested £10,000 to help pioneering communities thrive by setting up their own businesses.
The society has invested in the ICOF Community Capital (ICC) loan fund which supports communities to build successful ventures. The aim of the fund is to provide loan capital to support new and growing co-operative and community businesses that provide social and environmental benefits.
A recent market report said that in 2019 there were 9,000 community businesses operating in England, employing 33,900 people, with a further 205,600 volunteers – an increase of almost two-thirds on the previous year making an estimated £890 million contribution to the economy.
Heart of England CEO Ali Kurji said: “Our roots as a co-operative society stretch back to 1832. We started from humble beginnings – being founded by a group of nine ribbon weavers who opened one shop in Coventry.
“Today we operate a network of 35 food stores and 15 funeral homes and it is thanks to the co-operative movement that we have been able to continue building our society over nearly two centuries.
“By investing in the ICC we are giving back to the co-operative movement, giving local communities the same opportunity to take ownership of their own local assets – whether it be a pub, a shop, a local creche, a recycling business or a housing co-operative.
“This in turn will help provide training and employment opportunities and regenerate communities and build thriving businesses, with people able to spend on a wide range of facilities in their local areas.”
Tim Coomer, business development manager at Co-operative & Community Finance, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive the investment from Heart of England Co-operative, which will help us support more communities to take control and deliver local solutions to meet local needs as a co-operative.
“The ICC fund has lent over £3.5m so far and this investment will enable us to do more, especially at this time when we need to do all we can to get our community businesses moving again.”