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The Co-operative Bank has announced it has renewed its partnership with The Hive, a support programme for the UK’s co-operatives, delivered by Co-operatives UK.
The Hive, which The Co-operative Bank has supported with a total investment of £1.7 million since 2016, has helped over 1,000 co-operatives and groups with support including direct business advice, workshops, training and mentoring. Part of the funding from The Co-operative Bank has also helped develop a digital registration service for co-op start-ups – a first for the sector. As part of this process, new co-ops will also be able to access free business banking from The Co-operative Bank.
Since the launch of The Hive in 2016 some of the key achievements over the last four years include:
Over 1,000 groups have received support worth in excess of £600,000.
50 free introductory sessions facilitated across the UK, attended by more than 500 groups, looking to start a co-operative or wanting to learn more.
Over 80 new co-operatives have been incorporated.
40 ‘Community Shares’ support packages provided, raising more than £6 million of community investment in the development of co-operatives and their communities
The support has impacted more than 20,000 volunteers, members and employees as well as their wider communities.
Supporting co-ops throughout Covid-19, helping them navigate the various business support schemes, working through business forecasting and cost saving opportunities and helping businesses ‘pivot’ to online trading.
This news follows Co-operatives UK research which suggested co-operatives may be far more resilient to economic shocks and significantly more likely to survive compared with other businesses. After their first five years, 76% of co-operatives are more likely to succeed when compared with other businesses (42%). Co-operatives contribute £38 billion to the UK economy and the UK’s 7,063 independent co-ops employ 241,714 people with over 14 million members who own and have a say in how they operate.
Nick Slape, Chief Executive Officer, The Co-operative Bank said “As a bank built on co-operative values and ethics we remain committed to supporting the co-operative sector, giving like-minded people, innovators and groups the support they need to succeed when UK businesses face unprecedented challenges during this extremely difficult time. We hope that through our ongoing support of The Hive and partnership with Co-operatives UK, we can make a real difference to people running or looking to start a co-operative.”
Rose Marley, Chief Executive, Co-operatives UK said “The pandemic has really made people think about their business and working lives. As more and more people are looking at how they might improve their future working lives for themselves, their families and the communities they are based in, we are delighted that The Co-operative Bank is supporting new and existing co-operatives to do just this.
“Our research demonstrates that co-operatives are almost twice as likely to survive the early years of business compared to traditional business models, and workers are looking for fairer and more equitable ways to do business and challenge the status quo.
“Leeds Bread Co-op is a brilliant example of how The Hive has supported businesses through the pandemic. And with continued support from The Co-operative Bank, The Hive will continue to create more robust and resilient business that will make a real difference to the communities they are rooted in.”
Leeds Bread Co-op is an independent artisan bakery and workers’ co-operative. They received support from The Hive to help them adapt in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lizzie, a Worker Owner at Leeds Bread Co-op said “We had a massive drop in sales from our wholesale customers who had to close because of government restrictions in the spring. We decided to cease trading temporarily for the safety of our staff and local community and to give ourselves some breathing space whilst we worked with an advisor from The Hive on urgent financial modelling and collective decision-making about our priorities. This was in addition to financial support from The Co-operative Bank as part of the Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS). We’re now back open, with social distancing measures in place as well as a new click and collect service and home deliveries, meaning we can still continue to trade in these challenging times. Support from the Hive was a lifeline at a critical time.”
In addition to supporting co-operatives through The Hive, The Co-operative Bank also provides tailored accounts specifically for community and co-operative businesses. The Community Directplus Current Account gives registered charities, community interest companies, co-operatives and credit unions an ethical way to bank for free. Community Directplus customers also have the opportunity to apply for up to £1,000 for project funding from the Co-operative Bank’s Customer Donation Fund which helps support special projects and fundraising opportunities.