Wales Co-operative Centre rebrands as Cwmpas

As the organisation turns 40 it embarks on its “next chapter as a development agency working for economic and social change”

Wales Co-operative Centre announced today that it has changed its name to Cwmpas. 

Founded in 1982 by the Wales TUC, the organisation has established itself as the UK’s largest development agency for co-operatives, social enterprises and employee-owned businesses, with a strong track record of collaboratively delivering multi-million-pound projects that build a fairer economy and promote social and digital inclusion.  

It says the new name signals its next chapter, working for economic and social change in Wales and in other parts of the UK, and is designed to reflect the organisation’s role in helping people and communities set out a path to a better future.

Chief executive Derek Walker said: “The time is right to pursue a new name and brand for our organisation to reflect who we are today and where we are headed. For 40 years, the Wales Co-operative Centre has successfully helped people and communities on journeys to create co-operative jobs, businesses, and communities. As the organisation has grown, our work has expanded and diversified. 

“The new name change seeks to address challenges with the current name, and heralds our next chapter as a development agency working for economic and social change. We will stay true to our co-operative roots while evolving to respond to new challenges and opportunities. While our focus will always remain in Wales, we plan to grow the volume of work we do in other parts of the UK. 

Da ni o gwmpas means We’re around in Welsh and could also be taken to mean We are from Cwmpas. This sense of working with people, communities and businesses and helping them get to where they want to be, will always be at the heart of the organisation’s ethos and we are excited about our future.”

A new strategy from Cwmpas has been developed alongside the new name in response to the unprecedented social, environmental, and economic pressures faced by the country. The strategy sets out Cwmpas’ plan to help build “a fairer, greener economy and more equal society, where people and planet come first”. 

Highlights of the organisation’s 40-year history include helping to establish Wales’s first credit union in Rhydfelin (now called Dragonsavers) in 1998; guiding Tower Colliery through the transition to the UK’s largest employee-owned business in 1995 – it went on to become the longest operating deep coal mine in the UK, finally closing in 2008.

In 1995 helped set up the UK’s first credit union based on an NHS Trust in Bridgend, and in 1999 it became the first chair of the All-Wales Social Enterprise Network.

Since then it has worked with the Welsh government on a number of anti-poverty and digital inclusion initiatives and has secured European funding for major co-op development projects.

In 2011 it launched the Coop Housing project was launched, with pioneer schemes established in Cardiff, Carmarthen and Newport.   

Three years later the organisation successfully proposed the creation of the Welsh Co-operatives and Mutuals Commission so that recommendations could be formally made to government on growing the co-operative and mutual economy in Wales. 

In 2016 it launched Care to Co-operate was launched, which set out to help people set up their own social care co-ops, and Community Shares Wales, which helps communities finance new projects.

It is now two years into its Transforming Wales Through Social Enterprise action plan, a 10-year vision for social enterprises to be at the heart of Wales’s post-pandemic economy.