A NEW brochure which promotes co-operation as an attractive option for running a business has been published by Co-operatives UK.
The Going It Together project set out to investigate the business support needed by new and established co-operatives and to develop an action plan for advancing the Co-op ethos and approach as an effective business solution.
The findings of the 18-month research project showed that mainstream business advisers needed to be made more aware of the co-operative option and who they should refer to for specialist support.
The action points which emerged from the study included: encouraging networking and partnership working; increasing access to specialist finance and influencing general business advice.
As a result of the work undertaken, an informative new guide on the co-operative options for employment and self-employment has been published, with additional support and advice available on the Co-operatives UK website.
The brochure highlights the benefits of a co-operative approach to business and draws on the success stories of a diverse range of co-operative enterprises.
"Our research showed that business advisers may have little or no information on the co-operative options available," says John Goodman of Co-operatives UK. "This gap in knowledge feeds through to those seeking advice and seriously hampers the development of co-operative businesses.
"We aim to raise awareness among the relevant professionals and, by working with our co-operative development partners in the regions, help ensure that information on setting up a co-op is easily accessible."
The research also provided evidence that co-operatives are more sustainable than other types of social enterprises and mainstream business start-ups.
This appears to be for a number of reasons, but includes factors such as an equal commitment from co-operatives to economic and social objectives, and democratic and participative structures making people feel valued and involved.
Going It Together was a joint initiative between Co-operatives UK, Coventry and Warwickshire Co-operative Development Agency, Aegis Associates, cbc and the Herefordshire Partnership, funded by Advantage West Midlands.
For further information visit: www.cooperatives-uk.coop/development.