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Five co-operative trends for 2014

In the spirit of possibility, as much as prediction, here are five hopeful trends I see for 2014:

1. The emergence of ‘open co-operative’ models that blend the ideas of free (or libre) software, open knowledge and democratic social enterprise, for example in work for a new vision for the economy coming out of Ecuador.

More UK share offers in co-operatives than in the stock market

It is great news this week that the Treasury will openly encourage increased investment in the country’s co-operative sector. The first new consolidated act for co-operatives since 1965 has been introduced into parliament, along with a fivefold rise in the limit for any one investment into a co-operative business (from £20,000 of withdrawable share capital to £100,000).

How are you doing today? A new guide to measuring performance in mutuals

How are you doing today?

If you are a business, then what I am asking about is your performance.

For investor-owned firms, this is typically going to be measured by return on capital over time. For co-operative and mutual businesses, it concerns, on our definition of performance, ‘the delivery of value to members over time and at least cost.’

What does it mean to be wealthy?

The legend of King Midas dates back to the early days of Greek mythology and tells the story of a King, for whom everything that he touched turned to gold. Like all folk stories, the tale can be told in different ways. Aristotle reports that he died of hunger. Other versions say that he was rescued by the gods, when he repented after turning his daughter, Zoe (or ‘life’) into gold. Here in one story that has lasted over centuries is concept and conundrum of wealth.

After a bone shaker of a week – 3 things to remember

OK, it has been the worst week for the co-operative sector for a long time – a real bone-shaker for those of us involved. Our movement is in the spotlight to an extent we’ve rarely experienced before but so far this light has not been kind, or illuminating of the true strengths and successes of co-operative and mutual enterprises.

What’s missing in the debate on the NHS? People.

The announcements this week on improving care and patient dignity in the NHS are welcome, but the one set of people that seem to me to be missing from the framework is the public.

There are over two million members of NHS Foundation Trusts. They ought to be a bedrock on which a participatory NHS can be built – after all medical professionals are expert on medical treatment, but patients are expert on what care and dignity feels like when receiving that treatment.

Over six thousand co-operatives and growing

For all the troubles that have hit the Co-operative Bank, as earlier with other banks, there are over six thousand co-operatives across the UK, owned in turn by 15.4 million people.

Co-operatives are businesses that are owned by the people that are involved in the everyday life of the business. One new co-operative starts every working day.

The survival rate for new co-operatives is also far higher than for business at large. One in three conventional businesses goes out of business within three years of starting. For co-operative enterprises, that is only one in twenty.

Winter-cold salty kisses – how six thousand co-ops help people to come together

I wrote in August about the inspiring story of Hastings Pier and how it could be renewed through community ownership, after the research we published by Jess Steele on piers and heritage assets.

It’s about members

What happens to the Co-operative Bank over the next period comes down to who owns what, when the dust settles and whether that helps one of Britain’s great recent ethical businesses move forward.

 

 

How to operate with minority external investors is something we explore in a new report we have released, called Good Governance in Minority Investor Owned Co-operatives – a review of international practice by the distinguished academic, professor Johnston Birchall.

 

 

One new co-operative business every day of the working week

There are 6,169 co-operative enterprises in the UK and these are owned by 15.4 million members.

The number of co-operatives is increasing at a rate of 6% per annum, averaged over the last four years, which is represents around 250 new co-operatives a year – around one new co-operative every working day of the week.

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