Co-op development agency launched in Islington to promote democratic economy

The local council is working with Outlandish, Co-operatives UK, Hackney Co-operative Developments, Stir to Action, Principle Six and Cooperation Town on the project

Islington Council is working with a consortium of co-op organisations to launch a co-operative development agency in the borough.

The council’s programme, Cooperate Islington, aims to create up to 10 new co-operatives by the end of the year, and support the growth of existing co-operatives with £75,000 of seed funding and wraparound business support. The council has partnered with six co-op organisations on the programme – Outlandish, Co-operatives UK, Hackney Co-operative Developments, Stir to Action, Principle Six and Cooperation Town.

It hopes the project will “give hundreds of workers a stronger stake in the local economy … allowing them to steer and shape local businesses, and fairly share the profits”.

The six partners will jointly lead the project and offer support to the new and existing co-operatives, including business planning, stakeholder management, coaching and mentoring. To help get them off the ground, the new co-operatives will also be offered free room hire and office space in SPACE4, one of Islington’s partner affordable workspaces in Finsbury Park.

Cllr Asima Shaikh, executive member for inclusive economy and jobs, said: “We want to ensure everyone has a chance to succeed economically, regardless of their background, and Cooperate Islington is an important next step towards achieving that. We are working to make our economy fairer, more equal and more inclusive for local businesses as we build back differently – part of our overarching community wealth building programme.

“Islington has had a long tradition in the co-operative movement, and I am delighted that we are investing to revive and revitalise this for the next generation of the co-operative movement in the borough. 

“These new and existing co-operatives will help nurture connections and mutual support between growing businesses at a local level, which in turn makes each business stronger and more likely to succeed. As part of this, we will be working hard to create an environment in which big businesses understand the value of working with co-operatives in their supply chain.

“We look forward to working with Outlandish and its partners to empower our local social enterprises – and creating a truly inclusive and democratic economy.”

Polly Robbins, manager of SPACE4 and member of the Outlandish, said: “Co-operate Islington is a brilliant programme and a true first for the borough, so we’re very proud to be leading on such an exciting opportunity.

“Islington Council is really breaking the mould in its approach to addressing disadvantage, bringing about more equality and economic justice.

“We’re collaborating with a number of great organisations to bring a huge amount of knowledge and contacts to the programme, and are looking forward to helping budding businesses in Islington realise their potential and make the most of the support and expertise available, as well as working with the institutions and bigger businesses in the borough to get local co-ops into their supply chains.”

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