From artisan bakers to green energy schemes, co-operative businesses, owned and run by members, are enjoying a renaissance. The co-operative trade association offers a practical guide to creating your own.
A co-operative is a business owned and run by its members. Whether those members are the customers, employees or the local community, they share the profits and have an equal say in how the business is run.
With people turning to fairer, more ethical businesses they can trust, co-operatives are enjoying a renaissance. 2012 has been designated the International Year of Co-operatives by the United Nations. And, whilst the UK economy as a whole has stagnated, the co-operative sector has grown by a staggering 21 per cent. There are now over 5,400 independent co-operatives in the UK.
There is no area where this is more obvious than the green economy, the fastest growing part of the co-operate sector. Eighteen per cent of all new co-operative businesses since 2008 are in this sector.
From new local food initiatives to the surge in community owned renewable energy schemes, there are some fascinating new businesses emerging.