Apply to The Hive

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 you will have to wait for a decision following submission is eight weeks.

This page outlines ways you can make your application as strong as possible. Please ensure you have read through the information before making your application.

Applying for support

  1. We have a limited amount of support available. Please read all of the information available to ensure your application is as strong as possible. We have designed this application form to give you the best opportunity to tell us why your organisation or group should receive this support. 
  2. You should also only complete the application form if you have the authority to apply on behalf of your group / organisation.
  3. ​Before you complete the application form, read the Assessment Criteria below to understand what you will need before applying for any advice or support. You will need to have certain information and documents to hand which will form the basis of our assessment.
  4. If you have questions before applying, please get in touch.

Application form >

Criteria 1: Support requirements

Tell us what type of support you require and why you require this support. What are the specific issues or challenges you are currently facing? Are you a pre-start group looking to test out your business idea or develop your business plan? Are you an existing trading business looking to grow? Are you an existing trading business facing succession issues (eg due to retirement)? What would you like to happen next? 

Criteria 2: Vision and aims

We would like to hear about your story so far in developing your enterprise or project, what you expect to do next, and what you hope to achieve in the end. What is your business idea? What evidence do you have to demonstrate the business will work? What needs are you trying to address? Evidence could include market research, community support and engagement, a prototype, or successful examples of a similar nature. 

Criteria 3: Beneficiaries and social value

We would like to understand more about your existing or potential members and beneficiaries (customers, employees, local community). Tell us about any community engagement you have undertaken; tell us about how you will create community benefit and social value.

Criteria 4: Governance

If you are unincorporated, we would like to learn more about your core founding group. How are you currently organised? Is there a core steering group? How many people are on the group? What are their roles and relevant experience? Is there a common vision and aim? What experience do they have of working together? If you are incorporated or currently trading, tell us more about your governance model (board of directors, no of employees, volunteers etc).

Criteria 5: Sustainable business model

If you are pre-start group, we would like to know how you will fund your business start-up (where will initial and future funding come from?); for Community Shares support you will need to tell us about any community engagement you have undertaken.

To help with your application and our assessment, please attach any existing supporting documentation:

  • Feasibility study. You can find information on how to undertake a feasibility study, including a template, under the testing your business idea section.
  • Business plan. You can find information on how to write a business plan, including a template, under the your business plan section.
  • If you are applying for Community Shares one to one advice you should also undertake the initial Phase 1 Community Shares Step-by-Step tool and upload the report created.
  • Any other documentation you think is relevant – e.g. market research report.

Criteria 6: Overall application strength

Bringing together all of the above, we will get a sense of your organisations's ambitions as a whole, and the extent to which you'll benefit from our support.

Application form >


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 you will have to wait for a decision following submission is eight weeks.

There are also Co-operative Skills Training sessions to help existing co-operatives to grow. These sessions do not require an application form.

Who delivers the support

The Hive's Preferred Providers - delivering one to one and group advice 

Co‑operatives UK has preferred providers with the necessary skills and experience to deliver one to one advice. Successful groups will be allocated a support provider based on the support requirements outlined in the application. The following will also be taken into account:

  1. Pre-existing relationship – where clients have been referred to the programme by a particular provider or where there is a specific request from clients for a specific provider.
  2. Specialism - expertise/experience/knowledge which will be useful to that particular client, including sector specific expertise.
  3. Geographical proximity.
  4. Fairness of distribution across providers.

What to expect

  • At least some face-to-face time with your Provider, but your contact time will also be via phone/video calls or email. We do intend that it will all be face-to-face.
  • The timing for this support will be flexible depending on your needs. However, all of the contact time with your Provider must be taken within 6 months from when you accept your support from The Hive.

Our preferred providers are listed here.

Application form >

Important notes

  • Data Protection Act: By submitting information via the application form you agree that Co-operatives UK may use the data you have provided. Wherever your personal information may be held by us, we will take reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure the information that you share with us is protected from unauthorised access or disclosure. If you would like to discuss how your information is stored and used by Co-operatives UK and our providers and partners in the The Hive programme please contact us.
  • Public Liability: Please consider carefully the activities that you will be undertaking throughout the support period, and whether any of the activities pose a risk to members of your organisation or the public. Remember, risk can take many forms - injury, financial loss, reputational damage, etc. If you feel there is risk in any activities you will undertake, you will need to consider whether insurance is required, an insurance broker or financial adviser will be able to give guidance on this.

Contacting the The Hive team

If you have any questions about how to complete your application, please email [email protected]

Who is delivering The Hive?

The Hive is being delivered by Co-operatives UK in partnership with The Co-operative Bank. Read more about The Hive partnership.

Application form >

Updated: 03/07/2018