Co-operatives

Community Benefit Societies

Social Enterprise

Community-owned business

Social Firm

Employee-owned business

Charity

Credit Union

Consortia

Public Sector mutual

Community Interest Company (large membership)

  

Co-operatives

They are value driven businesses owned and controlled by their members for the benefit the members. The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Statement of Co-operative Identity [PDF 94K] outlines the internationally recognised values and principles for co-operatives. It is an internal way of organising, examples of which can be found within all business types, sizes and trade sectors, and legal forms. Characteristics are:

  • one member, one vote;
  • return on capital limited;
  • no artificial restrictions on membership;
  • some do share profits amongst members in an equitable manner but others are non-profit distributing;
  • common ownership or co-ownership options.

The Co-operative sector is constantly developing as people develop new ways of applying co-operative principles to meet new social and economic needs. The following are the most common forms of co-operatives found in the UK today:

  • Worker co-operatives - owned and controlled by its employees
  • Housing co-operatives – owned and controlled by the tenants
  • Consortium co-operatives – owned and controlled by people whose services are collectively sold by the co-operative
  • Multi-stakeholder co-operatives – owned and controlled by different types of stakeholders (i.e. workers, consumers, supporters etc.)
  • Consumer co-operatives – owned and controlled by the customers (eg. the phone co-op)
  • Community co-operative – owned and controlled by members of either a geographical community or community of interest
  • Secondary co-operative – owned and controlled by other co-operatives and used to carry out joint activities on behalf of the member co-operatives
  • Food co-operatives (buying groups) – owned and controlled by individuals or organisations wanting to bulk purchase goods from suppliers
  • Agricultural co-operatives – owned and controlled by farmers (i.e. marketing produce, supplying agricultural services or sharing machinery)
  • Credit Unions – owned and controlled by the people who save with and borrow from the credit union

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Community Benefit Societies

They are value driven businesses owned and controlled by their members for the benefit the community. It is a common form for voluntary and community sector activity and is appropriate for democratic, non-profit distributing organisations.

Common characteristics are: nominal or variable withdrawable shares [YouTube video: What are community shares? An animated guide] ; enshrined democracy – one member, one vote irrespective of shareholding; limits on interest payable on shares; can have a statutory asset lock; some have exempt charitable status but not all. Common sectors for Community Benefit Societies are:

  • Community-owned renewable energy
  • Community assets (land trusts, building based i.e. pubs, shops, halls etc.)
  • Community services (transport, health services…)
  • Community supported agriculture
  • Housing associations

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Social Enterprise

A business that trades for a social and /or environmental purpose. It will have a clear sense of its ‘social mission’ which means that it will know what difference it is trying to make, who it aims to help and how it plans to do it. Its income will come through selling goods and/or services and it will also have clear rules about profit distribution.

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Community-owned Business

Owned by its members who come from the community served by the organisation but do not have any access to the enterprise’s income or assets and do not benefit financially from involvement. For example clubs and CASCs (Community Amateur Sports Clubs) or where the community has taken ownership of either an existing business or service or set up a new one.

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Social Firm

A business set up specifically to create employment opportunities for people disadvantaged in the labour market. Social firms work around three main values – enterprise, employment and empowerment.

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Employee-owned Business

Where the employees have a voice in how the business is run through employee engagement and a stake in the success of the business. They can take many forms from a workers co-operative to an Employee Benefit Trust, which holds shares in the business on behalf of the workers or a mutual.

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Charity that is trading or is thinking about trading

Many charities are now looking to generate income from trading. Some can do this as part of their everyday activities (primary trading) but some need to set up a separate trading entity.

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Credit Union

A member-owned financial co-operative, democratically controlled by its members and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates and providing other financial services to its members.

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Consortium of self-employed individuals, small businesses or voluntary organisations

These are businesses, voluntary organisations or individuals that come together in consortia to bid for bigger contracts or develop new services. There are two main types of consortia: a loose partnership with a lead body; or a formal consortium set up as a legal entity itself.

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Public Sector Mutual

Public sector services are being ‘spun out’ into independent enterprises. Many of these are mutual. These can take a number of forms from being wholly owned by the employees to minority-owned or owned by a range of different stakeholders.

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Community Interest Company (with large membership)

A CIC is a company with special additional features, created for use of people who want to conduct a business for community benefit and not purely for private advantage (see also Social Enterprise).

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“Strong aspirations for any of the intrinsic goals – meaningful relationships, personal growth, community contributions – were positively associated with well being. People who strongly desired to contribute to their community, for example, had more vitality and higher self-esteem. Where people organise their behaviour in terms of intrinsic settings they seem more content, feel better about who they are and display more evidence of psychological health”

Edward L. Deci from ‘Why we do what we do’

 

‘To build a more sustainable, equitable & democratic world,
we need an empowered, connected & durable movement of citizens’

South West Co-operative Support Limited
Registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefits Society Act 2014
Registered number: 30672R
Registered Address: The Coach House, 2 Upper York Street, Bristol, BS2 8QN
VAT registration number: GB 976 6695 43
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