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

2.4 Benefits of a co‑op

Here we outline some of the benefits of a co‑ops businesses – to your business, workers, members, the wider community and the UK economy.

Ownership matters. Giving people ownership of the businesses that they are closest to – whether they are workers, customers or suppliers – has multiple effects.

Benefits to the business

Shared ownership of a business:

  • Gives people a stake, creating greater engagement, interest and concern for the long term interests of the business. This applies as much to customer or employee owners of large retail businesses as it does to local people, who together own valued local enterprises such as pubs or football clubs.
  • Boosts productivity by making employees and suppliers more likely to work harder to support the business. Studies consistently show that the commitment ownership brings boosts productivity because people are invested, emotionally and financially, in the business.
  • Sharing ownership harnesses innovation, by giving those who understand the business best a reason to contribute to its development. There has been a move towards participation across the business world, as companies try to harness the ideas of those closest to the frontline - the employees and customers. When these people are also the owners there is an incentive, and a reward, for contributions.

But while business ownership matters, people have a sense of powerlessness about the economy. In Britain, 58% of people say big businesses are out of control and 57% say they have no influence over the economy.

Co-operatives offer a solution. They give people control of the businesses they are closest to - whether they shop at them, work at them, or supply them. And they give people control over things that matter to them, in process boosting productivity, harnessing innovation and giving them a stake. That is the co-operative advantage.

Benefits to community

Co-operatives are often rooted in their local community, providing a service that the community otherwise would not have, providing employment to local people, maintaining wage levels and keeping money in the local economy.

Benefits to the UK economy

Co-operatives are worth around £40 billion to the UK economy each year. Co-operatives UK publishes The Co-op Economy report annually. The 2021 report revealed:

  • Co-ops four times less likely to cease trading – just 1.5% of co-ops were dissolved in 2020 compared to 6.5% of businesses generally
  • Number of independent co-ops grew by 1.2% in 2020 despite the global pandemic
  • Turnover for the UK’s 7,237 co-ops grows to £39.7bn (an increase of £1.1bn)
  • Co-ops are more ambitious than small businesses generally, with 61% of co-ops expressing ambitions to grow or develop in the first quarter of 2021
Next we consider your options when it comes to your co‑op's finances
Remote video URL
Co‑operate – a short video celebrating co‑ops
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