A £1m commitment towards co-operative development has been announced by the Co-operative Bank.
The deal will see Co-operatives UK delivering a variety of initiatives to develop and grow co-operatives over a three-year period.
Following the demise of the Co-operative Group’s Enterprise Hub last year, the programme fills a gap in co-operative development.
Set to launch early next year, the initiative will support both existing and start-up co-operatives. Part of the programme will include:
- A website to deliver business advice and guidance
- One-to-one support, peer mentoring and group training sessions, which will cover key issues such as registration, membership development, and co-operative finance.
- The online co-operative community will unite member-owned businesses by creating networking and business development opportunities.
Co-operative values are written in the Bank’s Articles of Association.
Earlier this year, the bank committed to supporting the growth of the co-operatives sector as part of its extended Ethical Policy, when over 74,000 customers shared their views on what was important for the future. These values are written into the bank’s articles of association.
Niall Booker, chief executive at the bank, said: “Co-operatives and community businesses have an important role to play in the UK economy and society as a whole, and it is important that the growth and development of the sector is supported. The value of co-operative and member-owned businesses to the British economy has increased by 15 per cent over the last five years and we want to play an important role in supporting growth for the future.
“Earlier this year we underpinned our commitment to supporting co-operatives in UK by writing this into the Bank’s Ethical Policy. This partnership brings this commitment to life by providing Co-operatives UK with funding over the next three years to provide resources and expertise to help existing and new co-operatives grow and flourish.”
Ed Mayo, secretary general at Co-operatives UK, said: “With everything from football clubs to farmer controlled businesses, the co-operative sector is diverse and thriving. This partnership promises to give it a further boost. Whether it’s supporting communities to gain control of vital local assets like pubs or historic buildings, or helping existing co-operatives create more jobs, the new programme will provide welcome support for businesses up and down the country that are giving people control over things that matter to them.
“With a new Co-operatives Act last year, the rise of ‘community shares’ crowdfunding and now this support programme backed by The Co-operative Bank, there has never been a better time to start or grow a co-operative.”