Help & support for co-operatives, mutuals and community-led enterprises

If you already are or are planning to set up a co-operative, mutual or other type of community-led enterprise, you may want to know more about specialist support provider, Co-operative Futures.
 
The company works nationally but has a strong West Midlands focus. Some of its services may be available free of charge; in other instances it may be able to signpost you to sources of grant-support that will help meet the cost.
 
Co-operative Futures is a business development consultancy specialising in support and advice for co-operatives, mutuals and community-led enterprises. Typically, its clients meet three basic criteria: 1) they have some sort of trading activity; 2) they have a social purpose; and 3) they have some form of collective ownership.
 
Whether you are just starting out with an idea, or are an established co-op enterprise looking to grow and develop your business, Co-operative Futures can help you. It provides practical, hands-on advice and support at every stage of an organisation’s development and has experience of supporting co-ops and community businesses in retail, leisure, community asset transfer, renewable energy, producer groups, social care and many other sectors.
 
The organisation specialises in the following areas:
 
  • Pre-start – support to explore your ideas, who should be involved, and what your next steps need to be.
  • Starting up – looking at your business model, the viability of the business and what you need to get going.
  • Governance – how to make sure your legal structure is the right one and making sure you are doing the right things for your members.
  • Finance – looking at how much it costs to run your business, what you should charge to make the right amount of profit and how to understand your accounts.
  • Marketing – identifying who your customers are, what they want to buy, how much they will pay and how to tell them about yourselves.
  • Business plans – that cover all the important areas, whether primarily for internal use, or as a tool to help raise finance.
 
Co-operative Futures is also a Community Shares practitioner and can offer bespoke support in writing share offer documents that will enable you to raise capital investment from your community or members.
 
Community Shares schemes are being used increasingly to help finance and grow all kinds of community-led enterprises — local shops and pubs, renewable energy schemes, community facilities, local food growing, football clubs, heritage buildings.
 
For more information send mail to Co-operative Futures.
 
Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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