Launch a Co-operative Development Agency

Launch a Co-operative Development Agency

A network of support and capacity building to develop and extend the capabilities of the co-operative movement.

A Co-operative Development Agency would strengthen the growth of the sector, helping co-operatives – both individually and as a network – to develop by providing a thick ecosystem of institutions and cultures that give information, advice, expertise and support.

A Co-operative Development Agency would have responsibility for:

Facilitating knowledge exchange among co-operatives
This would give co-operatives the space to share best practice, costs and risks through co-operative clusters, federations, peer support and mentoring programmes.

Supporting co-operative business development
The agency could work with the sector to promote economic co-operation between co-ops by connecting co-operative supply chains and encouraging inter co-operative trading.

Funding the development of a core co-op API
The core co-op API could provide the building blocks of a common digital infrastructure, enabling co-operatives to operate at scale. Benefits of digital connectivity could include:

  • More meaningful membership participation in governance
  • Greater collaboration within and between co-operatives
  • Better relationships with co-operative customers and members

Replicating, sheltering and expanding successful co-op models
This would provide the required support to enable the replication and proliferation of successful co-operative models. The Agency would help shelter new co-operatives by providing support with core infrastructural requirements, reducing costs in the process.

Providing technical support to assist in worker buy-outs
This would include providing workers with professional feasibility studies for assessing the viability of new worker co-ops, as well as legal and technical assistance during the process.

Policy in practice

Projects that demonstrate the benefits or may be helped by polices like this.

  • Riverford Organics
    Riverford switched to employee ownership to protect its values and independence in 2018.
  • Grasshoppers In The Park
    Parents and staff work together to provide high-quality, affordable childcare at this co-operative nursery.
  • Islington Community Wealth Building
    Islington, with some of the richest and poorest residents in the country, aims to build a more democratic economy.
  • Suma Wholefoods
    Suma, Europe’s largest equal-pay co-op, recently celebrated its 40th birthday.
  • Novograf
    Former owners sold leading signage company to its workforce.
  • Aardman
    Founders of UK’s biggest animation company handed 75% share to employees to ‘safeguard independence’.
  • YnNi Teg
    YnNi Teg develops and builds renewable energy generators in Wales, funded by community shares.
  • The Larder
    This workers' co-operative connects local growers with businesses in the fightback against food poverty.
  • Schools’ Energy Co-operative
    Schools’ Energy Co-operative has installed solar panels on schools across the country, working with a network of local groups.
  • North Ayrshire Community Wealth Building
    Scotland’s first community wealth building strategy aims to spread prosperity in an area with historically high poverty rates.