Covid-19: Co-op updates, 7 April

Updates from Kenya, Australia and Denmark and, from the UK, the EOA, Co-op College and Social Enterprise UK


The Co-operative College has added to its range of eLearning courses designed to help people cope with the mental stresses of the pandemic and lockdown.

The courses have been designed in partnership with Upskill People and cover topics including stress, anxiety and depression in interactive, easy to understand chunks, “perfect for anyone looking to work on their wellbeing or offer a helping hand to friends and relatives”.

“At times like this, co-operation really comes into its own and we want to play our part in helping all our supporters get through what’s proving to be a really tough time for many,” says the College.

The College has cut the price of its own eLearning courses by 50%, reducing courses such as What is a Co-op to just £5. And its partnership with Upskill People offers access to their its full catalogue.

Social Enterprise UK has tweeted a call for clarification on whether or not furloughed workers can volunteer their time to help their employers – which could help social enterprises maintain operations during the crisis.

The organisation’s CEO Peter Holbrook replied that this is not currently permitted but said lobbying work is being done to change this.

The Employee Ownership Association hosts webinar at 11am on Thursday, 9 April on mental health and wellbeing for colleagues.

The guest speaker is Ben Channon, who has stepped away from his usual role of project architect at Assael Architecture to spearhead an innovative approach as head of wellbein .

The EOA said: “Employees’ health and well-being are paramount in the current situation with employers needing to be proactive in protecting their people and minimising the risk to staff and business continuity.

“It has been reported that the third week of working from home is supposed to be the toughest on people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

You can register for your place on this webinar by clicking here and entering your details.

EOA hosts a full list of videos on the COVID-19 Information Hub as well as information on any webinars announced in the near future.


International Co-operative Alliance

Simren Singh, programme officer at the Asia-Pacific office of the ICA, has tweeted a message on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Discussing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she highlighted No.12, sustainable and ethical consumption and production, and says the crisis marks “a good time to realise what choices we have made in the past … and definitely how can we improve upon them”.

Covid-19 is a lesson that “our lifestyles do backfire” and we should not assess how our future should be to make the world better and more habitable. And she called on those to behave ethically and responsibly to help vulnerable people through the crisis.


The Co-operative Bank of Kenya has allocated Ksh100m (£770,000) to a Covid-19 emergency fund to help the country cope with the outbreak.

EO Gideon Muriuki said: “This is a critical moment for our country. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest crisis of our time particularly in the effort to source critical life-saving medical supplies and equipment, especially ventilators that are in short supply globally. The board of directors and staff of Co-op Bank is honoured to support with a key cash contribution of Ksh100m, preferably to be allocated towards purchase of critical ventilators.”

The bank, which has recently reported a profit before tax of KSHS 20.7bn (£0.17bn) for the year 2019, has launched an appeal to encourage other businesses to make donations to the emergency fund.

The fund was set up by the National Treasury at the request of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta to support the country’s Covid-19 response.

On 5 April Kenya had 142 confirmed cases of Covid-19. On 6 April the government extended the ban on all international flights in and out of Kenya for an additional 30 days.


Coop Denmark has given its tenants the option to postpone the payment of rent for three months in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

The retailer has around 190 tenants in its properties throughout Denmark.

Chief executive Kræn Østergård Nielsen said the co-op would like to help its tenants – mostly occupying shops, service areas and warehouses – who are affected by the pandemic.

Coop Denmark has also offered advance payment to around 378 small local suppliers.


The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) has welcomed updates from the federal government regarding the JobKeeper Payment.

BCCM wanted clarification that individual businesses that operate as part of a consolidated group for income tax purposes would be eligible for the payment. Co-operatives and mutuals often use a consolidated model to provide different services to their members through individual business entities.

The government has now confirmed that the test for businesses to show a decline in turnover will apply to each business in that consolidated group.

“This is a positive outcome from our recent advocacy and good news for some of the largest CMEs who will now be able to access JobKeeper to support staff in business entities hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic,” says BCCM.

“Some co-ops and mutuals are not-for-profit registered charities and they will be eligible to apply for JobKeeper with a 15% decline in revenue. All other not-for-profit and for-profit co-operatives and mutuals are subject to the 30% threshold under $1bn and 50% over $1bn, consistent with other businesses.”