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5.3 Choosing your type of co-op

We outline co-op types, which refers simply to the way you describe your co-op, for example a community co-op and a worker owned co-op.

Whilst it's important to define your co-op type, in the eyes of the law an organisation is identified purely by its legal form, which we covered in the previous step.

The following is a summary of the main types of co-operative and their characteristics. More information on each type can be found in our Simply Legal guide.

Suitable if you are a group of people belonging to a particular community and wish to start a business that you will own and control. Your community can be geographical (for example, a village shop) or a community of interest (for example, a renewable energy co-op). A community co-operative will normally carry out activities that are of benefit to the whole community, or a large part of it.

Suitable if you are an independent businesses, organisation or individual and wish to collaborate to enhance trade or reduce costs. Members of a co-operative consortium work together on key activities such as leasing premises, buying equipment, marketing the members’ products and services and by forming agencies (for example, actors and doctors).

Suitable where members – individuals or organisations – may have a different relationship with the co-operative, employee, user, consumer but share a common interest in supporting a particular geographical community or community of interest.

Suitable where you want to create a business which is owned and run by its employees. At a minimum, employees who become members are involved in the co-operative by working for it, but they can also be involved in guiding how the co-operative is run. Some worker co-operatives are managed on a collective basis, where all employees will be members and will also be committee members or directors. Other worker co-operatives are managed through a smaller committee or board of directors that is democratically elected by and from the employee members.

Other organisational types

If the type of co-op you are considering is not included in the summary, you can read about more co-op types in Simply Legal below.

Simply Legal

Simply Legal is a guide with all you need to know about legal forms and organisational types for co‑operatives and community owned enterprises.

Simply Legal front page
Simply Legal - legal forms and organisational types of co-operatives and community owned enterprises.
File info
PDF, 573.11 KB
Simply Legal Scottish Charities title page
Simply Legal - Scottish Charities supplement
File info
PDF, 112.57 KB
Simply Legal - Northern Irish Charities title page
Simply Legal - Northern Irish Charities supplement
File info
PDF, 111.54 KB
If you need any advice on other types of co-op, get in touch
Choose a name for your co-op