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Delivered by Co-operatives UK in partnership with The Co-operative Bank

Apply for support to convert to a co‑op

Shop front of the Natural Food Store in Diss

The Hive offers up to 10 days bespoke business support, mentoring and training to help you to understand the options for direct worker ownership and the benefits this brings.

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The Hive support helped us to navigate the process of purchasing the business. We gained a better understanding of what it means to be worker-owned and how best to make collective decisions on all aspects of running the shop.
– Natural Foodstore, Diss

The Hive offers up to 10 days bespoke business support, mentoring and training to convert your business to worker or community ownership.

Specifically, this breakdowns as:

Up to eight days direct one-to-one support is on offer. 

The Hive has a network of expert co-operative development advisers who are contracted to deliver direct one-to-one advice based on the needs identified in a group or co-operative's application.

One-to-one support is currently limited to phone/video calls and email due to COVID, but does not impact the quality of support being delivered. 

Ways one-to-one support can help

  • An initial diagnostic review working with the existing owners to assess the viability of a co-operative employee ownership option
  • Clarification of the owner’s withdrawal expectations and the most suitable model of co-operative employee ownership for the business.
  • A financial assessment to understand the potential buy-out timescale.
  • Advice and support around how funds can be raised for the buyout.
  • An implementation plan leading to incorporation as a co-op.
  • Where more specific expertise is required, we will sign-post clients to industry technical and legal expertise.


  • New registrations / incorporations.
  • New members (employees).
* These are indicative outputs and will vary with each group. The exact outputs will be agreed with you if your application for support is successful.

One in‐house training session* is on offer, to be delivered to your board or management committee. This will be determined by the support needs identified in your application as well as further dialogue with The Hive team.

The focus of the training session will be flexible but is likely to address areas relating to governance (new director / board training, how to manage conflict), membership or understanding your co-op's finances.

* Training is currently only being delivered online due to Covid, but this does not impact the quality of support being delivered. 

Up to three days mentoring is on offer where a group or co-operative is matched with another, more established and experienced co‐operative. The content of support is agreed between you and your peer mentor.

Peer mentoring is currently limited to phone/video calls and email due to COVID, but does not impact the quality of support being delivered. 

Mentor co-operatives need to be a Co-operatives UK member.

Who can apply?

We welcome strong applications from all sectors and from all regions of the UK. Below outlines specific criteria and objectives that we are looking to achieve and that will make your application for support even stronger.

Essential criteria

Your co-operative is or will be based in the UK.

Your co-operative is or will be a trading and sustainable business.

  • You are already or you aspire to be a business with a clear trading model and you aim to sustain or grow jobs or members.
  • You are already or aim to generate a surplus which will be distributed among members, reinvested in the business or will benefit your local community e.g. a community fund or improved services.
  • You will not be wholly dependent on charitable donations or grants.
  • Please also read the should my business be a co-operative guidance.

Additional criteria

Co‑operatives from key sectors

The Hive welcomes strong applications from all sectors. However, we are particularly interested in applications from the following:

  • Creating fairer working conditions for freelance or casual workers, particularly in the ‘gig’ economy where work can be precarious.
  • Creating more collaborative digital and tech ownership models e.g. platform co‐ops (see also the UnFound programme)
  • Delivering improved health and social care provision.

Your co-operative offer

  • Your co-operative offers, or aspires to offer, something new. You may be filling a gap in the market or creating alternative and more democratic solutions to specific issues or challenges. Your model has the potential for scaling-up or being replicated.


How to apply
Check if you're eligible then start your application!

How long do applications take to be assessed?

The Hive is open to applications all year round with applications reviewed at monthly panel assessment meetings. We aim to notify applicants of the outcome within two weeks of a monthly panel meeting, which means that the maximum amount of time an applicant will have to wait for a decision following submission is eight weeks. 

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