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

Workshop: Is starting a co‑op right for you? Exeter


Start date / time
Tuesday 19 March 2024, 2:00pm
End date / time
Tuesday 19 March 2024, 5:00pm
Ibrahim Ahmed Room, Reed Hall, Exeter University, Streatham Drive, Exeter, EX4 4QR
Organised by
Co-operatives UK
Event type
Discover co-ops – a fairer way of living and working

Discover co‑ops at this informative FREE session in Exeter. From South West Co‑operative Development and the University of Exeter Business School, in partnership with Co‑operatives UK.  

In the South West of England and thinking of starting a business? Or looking for a different approach to your existing business or community venture? Do you want it to be inclusive, democratic and empowering for everyone involved? Yes? 

South West Co‑operative Development, University of Exeter Business School and Co‑operatives UK have teamed up to deliver this FREE Is starting a co-op right for you? workshop on 19 March at Exeter University’s Reed Hall. 

You’ll gain a deeper understanding of co‑ops as successful, values‑based businesses as well as their purpose and benefits. Find out if your business or community enterprise idea suits the co‑op model. 

Completely FREE to attend, this session is part of the Business Support for Co-ops programme, which offers up to six days’ expert support to new and existing co-ops, delivered with support from The Co-operative Bank

Why co-ops? 

All kinds of businesses operate as co-ops – pubs, energy suppliers, taxi firms, bookstores, community gardens, wine sellers, farms, sports clubs and much more. 

They are run by their members, who can be customers, employees, residents or suppliers – and who have a say in how the co-op is run, making it a fairer, more collaborative and democratic way of doing business. 

Co-ops are also resilient as a business model. They are more than twice as likely to survive the early years of trading when compared to other start-up businesses.

What to expect  

This in-person event will comprise: 

  • A two‑hour session that will be a mix of presentations, Q&A and breakout sessions 
  • Followed by a one-hour surgery and networking opportunity  
  • Refreshment breaks will be incorporated throughout 


Alex Lawrie is a founder member of South West Co‑op Development, Ecological Land Trust and Somerset Co‑operative Community Land Trust. He has been a co‑operative development worker for more than 20 years and has helped client co‑ops raise around £900k of investment funding. 

Steve Howell has a background in housing co‑ops and is a founder member of the Eco Centre community benefit society. He has 30 years of experience in community development and regeneration, fundraising and stakeholder engagement. 

David Mezzetti and Rachel Russell are members of Exeter Growers Co-operative (EGC): David from its early days, and Rachel for nearly two years.  Well into its second decade, the EGC promotes understanding, enjoyment and sustainable use of its 5 acre Exeter plot: members grow and govern together, sharing their delicious produce from organic, regenerative practices and by increasing biodiversity. They will be sharing their experiences and insights as active co-operative members.

Guest speakers  

Adrian Bailey is a senior lecturer who teaches on the Co-operative Enterprise course at the University of Exeter Business School. He will introduce the course and explore how a larger co‑operative sector could bring wider benefits. 

Two speakers from successful local ecological and energy co-ops will also provide an insight on the requirements and challenges of turning an idea into a successful enterprise. 

Who should attend?

Anyone keen to learn more about co-operatives, this includes:

  • People and groups looking to start-up a business
  • New start-ups and young businesses
  • Existing businesses wanting to give employees more control and ownership
  • Community enterprises wanting to give the community more control and ownership
  • Businesses considering an employee buy-out or a more ethical model
  • Anyone wanting to learn more about co-ops: business advisors, local authorities, community leaders, voluntary sector support agencies, etc

The details 

  • Date: Tuesday 19 March 2024 
  • Time: 2-5pm 
  • Place: Ibrahim Ahmed Room, Reed Hall, Exeter University, Streatham Drive, Exeter, EX4 4QR

Free parking is available. This event is on the ground floor where there is also a wheelchair accessible toilet. 

Join us 

To sign up for the workshop, follow the BOOK HERE link, fill in the form – and we’ll see you in Exeter! Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!  

Can’t make it? We are running workshops in partnership with co‑op experts throughout the country, so check our Discover Co‑ops page to see if there’s another session at a time and location to suit you. 

By signing up to this event you agree to being contacted by Co‑operatives UK and the delivery organisation about this workshop.

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