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Supporting fair and ethical business in partnership with The Co-operative Bank

Impact Box: Bringing a tech business in line with its co‑operative values

Case study

28th March 2024
Co-op development
The Impact Box Team
When limited company Impact Box’s founder announced they wanted to step down, the people who worked there decided to start a co‑op…

Impact Box Co‑operative is a tech consultancy that works with charities, unions and other organisations with a social purpose.

“It’s our mission to help create a more impactful, efficient and data-informed social sector,” said director and member Desa Markovic. “We do this by providing software support and solutions that address the day-to-day challenges social enterprises face.”

Impact Box operated for six years as a limited company – but when the founder chose to leave the team decided, with their support, to continue as a co‑operative. “We were keen to carry on what we were doing, but we wanted to switch up the way we worked,” Desa recalled.

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The biggest advantage of our new co‑op structure is that we’ve been able to empower our workers and give them a direct say in how the organisation is run.
– Desa Markovic, Impact Box member

“We’re a values-focused organisation and we’ve been able to make our values a core part of the way we work.”

“We now have a more collaborative way of running the business. We’ve found ways to structure our work – and have taken on new roles. It suits us all well and has helped us develop our skills.

“Because, as workers, we run the business, we can build a business that works for everyone. Making decisions as workers gives us diverse perspectives and has been a great way to give all our employees an equal voice in how we should be run. It’s been great to take our values and apply them practically – that’s not impossible in a traditional company but it’s much easier in a co‑op.”

To take the leap into co‑operative ownership and management of the re‑vamped Impact Box, the team enlisted the help of the Business Support for Co‑ops programme, delivered by Co-operatives UK, in partnership with The Co‑operative Bank.

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We didn’t have experience of running a co‑operative and we wanted to get clear on our values and mission. We had been working collaboratively as a group but operating as a co‑op was different. So we wanted support to establish the best way of approaching that.
– Desa Markovic, Impact Box

The team received a package of consultancy over a six‑month period in 2022 from co‑operative development expert Adrian Ashton. “Adrian was flexible about how we used the time and was good at checking in with us. His support was helpful,” said Desa.

“I appreciated the sessions he did with us on wearing different hats and how to manage different roles within an organisation. Because we’re a small team, we are all directors and workers – and we need to be mindful that we’re taking care to attend to the needs and perspectives of each role.

“We also did a useful session about what to do with any surplus at the end of the financial year – whether to invest it in the organisation or issue dividends, etc. He used a case study approach to take us through a number of scenarios.

“Adrian helped to direct us at a time when we were quite fresh and had a lot of ideas but didn’t know how to push those ideas forward. It enabled us to step back and consider our approach.

“We’ve also done a huge piece of work on our strategy – planning where we’re going and what we’re doing. A big part of that was directly off the back of some of the work we did with Adrian.”

Going forward, the Impact Box members are focusing on the wellbeing and development of the team, as well as creating a sustainable organisation.

“We’re exploring working with different tools and platforms,” said Desa. “Upskilling the team is also a big focus – giving every member space to learn. We think there’s a lot of value in that.

“The last two years, we’ve had a strong focus on creating a better organisation that works for us – and as a result we do better for our clients.”

Find out more

Impact Box – Website | X | LinkedIn
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