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Social Enterprise Support

Social Enterprise Support

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To apply for free support from Community Empowerment Ltd - please click on the 



LINK to the enquiry form.

The Co-operative Enterprise hub runs a programme to provide support to other co-operatives across the UK. The Advice and Training programme enables new and existing co-operatives to receive expert support to develop as successful co-operative businesses.

The programme is delivered at a regional level through co-operative consortia of  Co-operative Development Bodies and other partners.             

The aim of the programme is to provide a range of expertise for emerging and developing co operatives.

You can apply to receive up to four days of support, which could include business planning, feasibility studies or legal and governance advice.

It might be sector specific advice in fields such as community services, credit unions or retail.

There are many forms and structures that Co-operatives might take. We can help you to decide which suits your organisation. We may help with Industrial & Provident Society structures or Company structures.

For more information or to apply for free support,click on the link below. If you complete the application for support please remember to state that you heard about the project through the EMPOWER forum.

If approved, the Co-operative Enterprise Hub will arrange for you to receive Advice or Training which dependent upon your location and your needs might be carried out by Community Empowerment Ltd or an alternative approved support body.

Apply here for free Advice & Training.


NB. We are sorry, but this service applies only to the UK.

For details of The Co-operative Group's support for Co-operatives internationally please click on the following link:

Overseas co-operative support

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  • A 'Model of Enterprise'


    When the people charged with running an enterprise don’t properly understand the organizational model that underlies their enterprise we should not be surprised if they make a mess of it. Of course, in some situations it is not that they don’t understand but rather that they don’t want know or anyone else to know; because then they can run the enterprise in their own interests rather than for the benefit of its owners. This situation frequently appertains both in shareholder companies and in co-ops and mutuals.


    A ‘Model of enterprise’ means a simplified design or structure used to define the essential features and characteristics of a specific model of enterprise.  One model of enterprise may be used as the basis for several different forms and types of enterprise. An enterprise model should provide a complete and integrated system that is well understood by all those involved, and which guides decision-making throughout the enterprise. Various models of enterprise are designed to meet the different purposes of those setting-up an enterprise. The ‘Member-controlled enterprise model’ underlies all forms of co-operatives, mutuals, friendly societies and many other forms of member-controlled enterprise.


    The first steps towards properly understanding any subject involves establishing a clear system of categorisation and a widely agreed terminology. The attached table seeks to  provide the basis for categorising enterprises....Models of Enterprise.


    With kind regards,




    Please feel free to forward this information to any of your contacts that could be interested.


  • What are Worker Co-ops?


    On this edition, Dmitriy Kustov and Melissa Hoover discuss worker cooperatives, who runs worker co-ops and how they conduct business, the attendant advantages to co-op patrons, the distinctive nature of co-ops and their emerging impact in business....Co-operative News, the Global News Hub.


    For assistance in creating social enterprises based upon

    co-operation, use the enquiry form at

  • Why are co-operatives such popular places to work?


    A recent survey has found that co-operatives are more attractive to employees than mainstream private businesses.


    What is it about this small group of non-conventional companies that is so attractive to employees?...


    According to Tarra Simmons, head of colleague engagement at The Midcounties Co-operative, it is sometimes easy for employees to forget their co-op privileges. She says: "Five years ago, we found from surveys conducted amongst our 10,000 employees [or "colleagues," as they are known] that we'd really been a victim of our own success.


    Lots of colleagues stay in the company for their entire careers, and don't realise that other companies don't operate in the same way we do.


    We wanted to raise the profile of our 'co-op point of difference' within the organisation."...


    Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, the UK trade association for co-operatives, said: "We've seen that tribes are very important in the consumer world, and it's the same in the workplace. The workplace is fundamental to our lives.

    He adds:...The Guardian.

  • The mutual revolution: global statistics revealed.

    The scale and impact of the UK’s mutual sector is revealed in the recently published Mutuals Yearbook, launched by campaigning group Mutuo at its annual conference in London.


    Despite the recession, mutual businesses and organisations are set to achieve record revenue figures of £116 billion – a £4bn increase on last year’s total. Mutuo calculates that there are 17,897 mutuals in the country – a small drop on the 2011 figure – and over a million people employed in the sector.

    Altogether, according to the Yearbook, there are 5,933 co-ops in the UK; 338 Co-operative Trust schools; 9,006 clubs and societies; 184 football and rugby supporters trusts; 250 employee-owned businesses; 55 mutual insurers and friendly societies; 47 mutual building societies; 424 credit unions; 144 NHS Foundation Trusts and 1,516 housing associations.

  • Better together: The benefit of cooperative businesses.

    What is a cooperative? Cooperatives are jointly owned enterprises controlled by consumers, producers or workers who create a collaborative business that meets their common needs.

    Seven principles guide the cooperative movement: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community.

    Cooperatives are an integral part of the community and a driving force in the local economy.


    Why would someone want to start a cooperative rather than a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation?

    “You have to know what your real purpose is,” she said. “If you’re doing it because there’s a minimal amount of money you need to earn, then you might have a different answer.”

    If your aim is to reduce waste in the environment, strengthen community and earn a living wage, a cooperative model may meet your goals.


    Cooperative Maine, a volunteer-led association, provides a network of support in Maine, trainings on cooperative development, and a wealth of knowledge about best practices, resources and cooperative models.

    Cooperatives leave a lasting impression in local communities and economies.

    “A cooperative is a very stable form of business — it doesn’t relocate, get sold or fold when someone dies.

    Cooperatives stay put, and so does the money that consumers invest and spend in cooperative businesses. Moreover, cooperative decision-making creates strong, sustainable organizations.


    Can your community do better business together? If your business idea calls for community engagement, local economic investment and social and environmental values, you might be a good candidate to start a cooperative.

  • Saving Business through Worker Co-operatives.

    Co-operatives UK recently published a short paper by Dr Anthony Jensen about the opportunities available for business (and job)  rescue by the use of worker co-ops or other forms of employee ownership to deal with insolvent businesses. It suggests a strategy be developed to explore this further with a pilot programme to see whether a legal "right to bid" for the employees of an insolvent business would be a runner....

    Co-operative News, the Global News Hub.


    Measuring impact is the recognised way in which you show the value your organisation is delivering to its beneficiaries and society as a whole.

    For organisations looking to access funding, demonstrating exactly how you deliver on your mission can make the difference between securing funding and missing a valuable opportunity.


    If you are embedding impact measurement then it sets up very visible ways of judging the success of an organisation and showing that it is delivering to its beneficiaries. It is a signal that your organisation cares about improving its delivery, and is willing to be held accountable for its performance.


    Communicating your work effectively builds engagement with stakeholders.


    The emphasis on measuring impact is getting stronger as funders look to understand the performance of organisations operating within similar areas. As the impact agenda moves forward to include more empirical benchmarking using core indicators for particular areas and beneficiary groups, being ready with your relevant impact indicators and data will help to ensure your competitive advantage over those organisations that have not embedded impact measurement within their strategy.


    Your mission and purpose is central to your existence and reason for being. Delivering on that mission is why you carry out your work. so having definitive proof of how you are achieving your aims and to what extent is paramount. When impact measurement is carried out effectively, it will not only provide access to finance but also support your key performance indicators and your organisation's overall effectiveness. Impact is a valuable tool for ensuring more is done better.

  • Social enterprise: resist the urge to innovate – and supersize like McDonald's - A new report highlights how the social sector can learn from the business experience – and pitfalls – of franchising.


    One of the shortcomings of social enterprise (and I say this as a social entrepreneur) is the drive to innovate. We spend a lot of time looking for innovative solutions when many already exist. This is a problem. Time and money are poured into developing new programmes to meet social need when so often this work has already been done and could simply be copied or adapted.

    Too many brilliant programmes remain frustratingly small. Many are addressing local need but help 100 people rather than the 100,000 or more they would need to reach to really address the scale of the issue.

     Enter social franchising, a business model that can both take successful projects to scale as well as avoid the continual reinvention of the wheel.

    Franchising is well established in the commercial sector with UK franchisees turning over £13.4bn in 2012 across more than 900 franchise brands and over 40,000 franchisee outlets.

    The essence of social franchising is that a proven social change project is turned into a "franchise" and then quickly replicated. .

    This allows them to set up a successful business much faster, with reduced risk, whilst maintaining quality.

    For both the commercial and social franchiser, choosing the right franchisee is critical.


    Another critical factor is systemisation. Once you have chosen the right franchisee you have to be able to give them the blueprint to work from or you will get the job done in 10 different (often substandard) ways. It's something McDonald's and the Foodbank have got right yet where so many social sector organisations fall down. Making an operating manual is probably one of the least interesting parts of someone's job but it's pivotal to the success of the venture.

    Where the sectors differ is that social franchising is much more diverse than commercial franchising with no one-size-fits-all model. For social franchises, the real challenge is finding a sustainable business model whilst ensuring the quality of social outcomes and impact. A deep understanding of the community you work in and trust is the only way to bring people with you on the road to development. What appeals to me about social franchising is that this local context is maintained but with the ability to reach scale.

    Through gradual growth, social franchising has the potential to become another weapon in the arsenal of practical strategies for creating a more just and fair world, whether in the disability sector, the health sector or in addressing poverty, unemployment and beyond.

    I was so convinced by its importance, that halfway through my fellowship research, I left my job to co-found the International Centre for Social Franchising (ICSF) a charity with a mission to replicate proven social ventures to scale. We are already working with a range of public, private and social sector organisations such Oxfam's partners and GlaxoSmithKline to create real, lasting change on a large scale.

    If you have a proven social project that you think deserves to be scaled up, you know where to come.


    Dan Berelowitz is a 2011 Clore Social fellow and chief executive and co-founder of ICSF. His report can be found here(PDF)

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