Archive for the ‘co-operatives’ Category
To help celebrate Co-operatives Fortnight and to promote the fantastic work that co-operatives and mutuals do, Co-operatives UK is working with the Media Co-op to produce a collaboratively made film.
The basic idea is very simple – co-operatives throughout the country are being asked to film what they do and what they think of co-operatives.
These short pieces of video will be edited together by the Media Co-op to make the finished product which will be released during Co-operatives Fortnight. It will be a truly co-operative film from start to finish. The Wales Co-operative Centre is among the organisations signed up, to participate.
The short film above helps to explain more about the project and what participants need to do.
You can sign up here to be part of this exciting collaborative film project. The deadline to sign up is 30 May and the deadline to submit your video is 3 June.
A set of instructions have been produced, for co-operatives who sign up for the project.
Locally owned co-operatives such as Bron Afon Community Housing and RCT Homes do a fantastic job of providing local services and creating employment. If you’d like to know more about the co-operative approach and how it can be replicated in other communities in South Wales, book your place on this free seminar.
The Wales Co-operative Centre is keen to help communities across Wales to help themselves. We want to encourage the development of community co-operatives that engage with community members, provide vital services and create much needed jobs.
This seminar is aimed at people who are interested in finding out more or want to set up a community co-operative in their area.
Where and when?
• Porth, Too Good to Waste, Tuesday 30 April 2013, 10am – 1pm
This seminar will provide:
• Historical background to the co-operative movement
• Co-operative Principles and their relevance in today’s society
• Information on the pros and cons of developing a Community co-operative
• Issues to think about when setting up a community co-operative
• Information on suitable co-operative structures
• Examples of successful community co-operatives
Who should attend?
• Key decision-makers and policy advisors
• Community development workers
• Community activists
• Community First co-ordinators and support staff
• Community regeneration specialists
• Economic development specialists
• Grant givers and funding bodies
• Anyone interested in setting up community share schemes
Book your place now by completing our online booking form. Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment!
Business success through planned business succession will be the topic at a series of breakfast events hosted by Wales Co-operative Centre this month. The events will explore issues around business exits, succession and utilising employee ownership as a tool for long term succession planning.
Employee ownership experts from the Wales Co-operative Centre will be joined in the Cardiff event this Tuesday (“3rd April) by Chris Earnshaw, managing director of John Lewis Cardiff. Chris will look at how Employee Ownership in John Lewis gives the group a competitive advantage over other businesses within the retail sector. He will explore how John Lewis manages its employee ownership structure, its engagement with its Partners, (staff) and provide an insight into the benefits employee ownership can give companies of every size.
Britain’s most famous employee owned company, the John Lewis Partnership recently announced a bonus worth 17% for each employee – equivalent to nine weeks pay. The Partnership currently employs over 84,000 people and has paid a bonus of at least 9% since 1999/2000.
Employee ownership is a concept that is becoming more and more popular in Britain due to the increased recognition of it as a means of sustaining growth and encouraging innovation within companies. In fact, according to industry experts Field Fisher Waterhouse by September 2012, an investment of £100 in employee owned companies in 1992 would have returned £661 compared to the same investment at the same time in the FTSE All-share which would have returned just £244.
Employee ownership can also be effective as a long term succession strategy. Several models can be used to allow business owners to sell shares directly to employees or to a trust working on behalf of the employees (similar to the ‘John Lewis Model’). The move towards employee ownership is flexible and can be utilised over a timescale that suits the owners, the employees and the company.
Aberystwyth biotech company Aber Instruments is employee owned. It’s Finance Director Barry Wise and his co-founders decided to pass on the business to their employees as part of a long term succession strategy. Barry retires from Aber Instruments this year and is joining the Wales Co-operative Centre at the breakfast events to talk about the benefits of this approach for business owners looking to retire or for business owners looking to grow their business.
Places for the Cardiff event and the events in Swansea and Newport can be booked online at http://www.walescooperative.org/business-succession-events or by calling 0300 111 5050
The Seren Group, which includes Charter Housing, is considering developing co-operative housing on part of the old Pirelli Factory site, just off Corporation Road in Maindee. Before the group moves forward with this idea, it needs to find out whether Newport residents would be interested in living in co-operative housing. Seren is working with the Wales Co-operative Centre and the Chartered Institute of Housing to identify whether there is any demand for this form of housing in the City.
What is co-operative housing?
Co-operative housing is a form of housing where members (either tenants or owners) democratically control and manage their homes and play an active role in the life of the communities they live in. Co-operative housing is very common in other parts of Europe. There are a number of different types of co-operative housing, either for rent or for sale but they have one fundamental thing in common: they put democracy and community ownership at the heart of housing.
Some of the advantages of co-operative housing are:-
• An affordable form of home ownership
• A democratic and safe community
• Long term financing and security
• Flexible to meet occupiers needs
• Potential of shared benefits of communal energy
What is the plan for co-operative housing in Newport?
Seren’s plan for the old Pirelli site is to create a community of around 200 homes which will be a mix of homes for rent and to buy. The vision is of an ‘urban village’; bringing the community benefits of village life to the heart of the City. Seren would like to include an area of co-operative housing in this development, if there are enough people interested.
Why are we reaching out to you and what should you do next?
We are trying to find out whether you are interested in knowing more about the development of the Pirelli site and whether you are interested in being a part of the co-operative Seren wants to support on the site.
If you are interested in finding out more, please go online using this web address
You’ll be asked to answer a few questions about yourself, your family, your current housing situation and to provide your contact details.
We will then write to you with more information about co-operative housing and an invitation to attend an event to tell you more about Seren’s plan and the types of co-operative housing that may be possible.
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Dave Palmer from the Wales Co-operative Centre on 029 2055 6169.
The consultancy.coop, a small Co-operative Development Body (CDB) based in south Wales has recently set up a new website aimed at helping new and growing co-ops with their Community Share Issues.
Alex Bird, one of the partners in the co-op, realised after working with a number of community co ops trying to finance projects through share issues, that whilst they could market themselves easily to local people, communicating to the wider public wasn’t easy on a small budget. He and his colleagues have worked with community shops, community centres, pubs, football and rugby clubs, festivals, food co ops, bike shops, off-road cycle centres, recycling projects, gyms and energy co ops, and all had difficulty marketing their share issues. Many didn’t proceed with a share issues because they couldn’t see how they would get sufficient share sales and the activists involved looked to other sources of finance such as grants and loans.
Some projects they’ve worked with have been very creative in their share issues, linking up with credit unions and CDFIs to enable people to get lines of credit or save up to buy shares, but they still find it difficult to contact their diaspora, and you can only raise so much from local people.
Many projects have a wider appeal than just their immediate neighbourhood, and there is a large body of people across the UK and further afield who don’t have a project nearby but would like to support one. Real ale pubs, vegetarian and vegan shops, football clubs, and of course ecological and green energy projects are examples of projects with a broader appeal, but many such projects weren’t getting through to their potential share buyers, and at times weren’t hitting their finance raising targets.
After many discussions about who wasn’t doing what and whose job it was to sort out this problem, and why “they” should be doing it, consultancy.coop did what co-operators always do in the end – got on with it themselves.
Using the well-known open source software from WordPress and with the help of Co-operatives UK Internet Services they have set up a .coop site from their own resources.
The new website is up and running at http://www.shares.coop and features all the Community Share Issues they know about free of charge in a classified style listing, plus lots of advice and guidance. The site is presently entirely self-funding, although as it develops they hope to bring some sponsorship on board in order to raise income and grow the site, so they offer paid for features as well as the basic free listing.
Help them improve their SEO and get up the Google ratings by visiting the site, telling your friends, blogging, tweeting and linking your website to theirs.
• Cost to you £0
• Principle 6 credibility – Priceless
Women around the world are improving their lives through membership of co-operatives and selling their produce through Fair Trade. Through visiting Fair Trade producers I gained an insight into this.
Sarah is a farmer in Ghana with the Kuapa Kookoo Co-operative, which represents over 45,000 cocoa farmers through 1300 co-operative societies. As a fan of co-operatives I had long admired this organisation. After a tour of the cocoa fields, Sarah was really eager to show me her house which she was immensely proud of. She explained that it was only through being a Kuapa farmer (and thus their growing exports through Fair Trade), that she had been able to afford to build the traditional mud and clay small house. Women’s Development groups are also run to help women be financially independent, for example, by starting micro-businesses outside the cocoa growing season.
Another remarkable outcome of Kuapa Kookoo’s work is the number of women on its National Executive Council, which at 6/10 bucks the national trend. This is because each farmer has a vote and can stand to represent the local co-operative society at the area and main board. They also send one man and woman from each village society to the Annual General Meeting where main decisions are made.
So many women I met talked most about their children’s future and education is key to that. Whilst sometimes education is free, there are often school fees, uniforms, books and pens to buy that exclude some of the poorest paid. The basic long term income from Fair Trade helps them do that as well as feeding their children.
Ann Summa and other tea farmers in Kerala, India, live in the Ellapara mountains and own small areas of land they grow tea on. They collectively sell their tea as a consortium and through selling a tiny percentage of their tea on Fair Trade terms, she is able to keep paying their older children’s college fees. At a meeting of the Women’s Group they discussed how to spend their future Fair Trade premium. The amount was likely to be smallish and although they would have liked to have some kind of visiting medical clinic, they decided instead to spend the money on organic farming, so they no longer had to use the same tools containing pesticides. They explained how whenever they tried this their children had much better health compared to regular sickness after conventional spraying. This correlated with the story of Bella Joachim, a Banana farmer from Dominica who I met on tour in Wales during Fair Trade Fortnight in 2009. From her point of view, as well as having a better price, the most significant change from Fair Trade was in better health and safety procedures.
In rural Tamil Nadu, India, I was amazed to visit a garment factory with a crèche on site. The factory only makes Fair Trade goods. This meant women, who formed the majority of the workers, could go to work and earn their own money and hence have some financial independence. As the factory pays relatively well for the area it is also key to keeping people in the community, as many young people in India migrate to large towns to find work. Women’s’ groups, which were small groups of women who were waiting for employment at the factory and did cotton bag sewing, were so successful and in such demand that they had been extended to men’s groups.
Elizabeth Hudson visisted Kuapa Kookoo with Fair Trade Wales in 2008 (to represent the Centre’s Fair Trade Business project) and India in 2007 as a personal trip.
A guest blog post from Fair Trade Wales.
Five years ago, Wales became the world’s first Fair Trade Nation. This was an unprecedented achievement and marked years of hard work from grassroots campaigners, schools, faith groups, business and Government. So this Fairtrade Fortnight there is more reason than ever to celebrate.
And what better way to celebrate than to attempt a Fair Trade themed world record! This year, the people of Wales are invited to share what the Fair Trade Nation means to them by sending in postcards from their own corner of Wales. It can be a simple sentence, a doodled drawing or even a cheeky tune. Whatever your message and however you chose to express it, it will then be collated together to make up to the largest ever post card to be shared with the world later this year. All that’s left is to find a big enough stamp! You can find details of this exciting attempt and download your own Fair Trade Nation postcards on the Fair Trade Wales website.
That’s not all either, Fair Trade Wales and Welsh campaigners have partnered with the Fairtrade Foundation, Zaytoun & Cafe Direct to bring Fairtrade producers from Uganda, St Lucia and Palestine to Wales. They will be sharing their stories about the transformative impact Fairtrade is having on their lives at a whole host of events up and down the country involving school, councils, business and even government reflecting all aspects of the Fair Trade Nation. You can find out where your nearest Fairtrade Fortnight event is taking place by checking our events page.
If that doesn’t take your fancy, why not throw your own Fair Trade Nation party. You could invite your neighbours and celebrate with some Fairtrade bubbly or orange juice and lots of Fairtrade food. If you fancy a more sober occasion, why not arrange a debate? You can invite your local MP and ask them what the Fair Trade Nations means to them. Finally, how about taking inspiration from the Fair Trade Nation and joining the remarkable Enough food If… campaign.
Whatever you choose to do, we can be enormously proud of the contribution Wales has made and continues to make towards the cause of trade justice. So let’s get celebrating!
There’s more information on Fairtrade Fortnight on the Wales Co-operative Centre website.
The independent Commission has been set up to make recommendations on growing and developing the co-operative and mutual economy in Wales.
We want to hear your views
The Commission would like to hear views from people in Wales and wider afield: producers, consumers, householders, those in and out of work, local communities, those running businesses in Wales, those with experience of the co-operative and mutuals sector and individuals, communities or groups who would like to start their own enterprise.
- What opportunities are there for developing and growing co-operatives and mutuals in Wales?
- What role should co-operatives and mutuals take in the delivery of public services in Wales?
- How can the Welsh Government support the formation and growth of co-operatives and mutuals in Wales?
- What scope is there for existing co-operatives and mutuals to expand their operations in Wales and to assist other co-operatives to set up and grow.
- Have you ever considered setting up or converting to a co-operative or mutual enterprise in Wales?
- If so, where did you go for information and support and did you receive appropriate advice?
- If you have received business advice in Wales, were you provided with information about the co-operative and mutual business models? How helpful was that advice? In what ways could it be improved?
- What constraints are you aware of in establishing and expanding co-operatives and can you suggest ways of getting around them?
- Are there ways in which the use of information technology and social media could be used to strengthen the co-operative and mutual economy in Wales?
How your views will help
Your views will help inform the Commission’s findings which will be presented to the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science.
How to respond
The deadline for responses is 19 April 2013.
Please submit your views and suggestions in one of the following ways:
@coopmutualwales (External link)
Join in the conversation
Our Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission Linkedin group (External link) allows members to share knowledge, provide feedback and discuss the issues being discussed by the Commission.
Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission
c/o Welsh Government
Ground Floor, North Wing