Community co-operatives can come in many forms: shops, pubs, bakeries, farms, community hubs, farmers’ markets, woodlands, broadband projects – the list is endless!

They are businesses, but trade primarily for the benefit of their community. They are controlled by the community, and they have open and voluntary membership, actively encouraging people to get involved by becoming members. They do this by offering shares in the co-operative, the cost of which are set at a level that the majority of people will be able to afford. 

Community co-operatives are set up on a one member, one vote basis, rather than one share, one vote. This is important because it means that all members have an equal say in how they want the co-operative to be run, regardless of how many shares they’ve bought or how much money they’ve invested. In this way, they are truly democratic forms of business. 

Like any business, a community co-operative must be profitable. But their primary trading purpose is to provide benefits for their community, and profits are primarily reinvested back into the business or into the local community. Many co-operatives choose to support local projects or groups through small prizes or raffle prizes, or invest in general community improvements. 

A really important aspect of community co-operatives is that the majority of them offer additional services that benefit the community. These include things like Post Office facilities, allotments or growing spaces, library services, childcare services, IT provision, cafes and meeting spaces and much more.

Why do people set them up?

Community co-operatives are set up for a range of reasons. For some, the main motivation will be to safeguard the only remaining community asset left in their village, or to save a valued service from closure. For others, it will be to establish a better quality or new service that meets local needs. The major benefit in all cases will be the creation of a community hub, which will aim to reduce issues such as social isolation, loneliness and poverty.

How are they managed?

There are a number of management options for community co-operatives. In the majority of cases, the community will purchase the freehold in order to retain community control of the asset. Once owned, the community has the option of leasing the operations of the business to a tenant, or running it themselves with either paid or volunteer staff. 

Some communities may not be able to buy the freehold, and will purchase the leasehold of an asset to make sure that the enterprise is run for community benefit, at least in the short term. We help each community to find a solution that will work best for them.