Setting up a co-operative

The following advice is available for groups starting a co-operative who have a business plan in place and are ready to set up as a co-op.

→ Apply for one-to-one advice

Apply for one-to-one advice for up to to four days direct business support from an experienced Hive provider, bespoke for your business. Watch a short video, read more below or take the next step

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.

Becoming a co-operative – more information

Activity

Format

2016 Timing / delivery

Costs

Becoming a co-op

2 days of direct advice 

Next step

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.

£100; or £75 for CUK members

Who’s it for?

  • Groups and organisations that want to become registered co-operatives.

Brief description

  • Support with deciding the most appropriate type of co-operative model and structure, fine-tuning the governance and participation associated with that structure, and support with the incorporation process.

Maximum support

  • Two days

Approach

This will depend on your requirements, but is likely to include some or all of:

  1. Support to choose the legal form and appropriate model and prepare the governing document:
    • Clarify business model – how the co-op will generate income and how it will spend or distribute profits.
    • Identify shared economic/social/cultural needs or aspirations (these should form objects). Clarify member benefit – is it straightforward profit distribution, access to service, social, etc?
    • Clarify membership categories
    • Clarify governance options
    • Clarify financial structuring (how they will raise funds and impact on structure).
  2. Developing membership criteria (i.e. who can be a member – worker/user, etc – and associated criteria such as hours worked or service use) and member agreement (setting member obligations and responsibilities at the outset).
  3. Developing a member engagement and/or member training plan – to include a board training plan for larger co-ops. Note - it is anticipated that the delivery of member training itself will not form part of this support and will be accessed through Skills Training or Cluster support.

Please note: The registration process itself is separate from the above. You will be advised as to whether you should register through Co-operatives UK or through another organisation, such as the Plunkett Foundation or Co-operative Development Scotland.

Monitoring

  • You agree to provide us with feedback 6 months and 12 months after support is complete to help us measure impact.

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.

Employee buyouts – more information

Activity

Format

2016 Timing / delivery

Costs

Employee buyouts

Up to 7 days of advice including a feasibility study (day 1), match-funded by the group.*

Next step

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.

Match funding (up to £2,800)*
*The Hive will ask the enterprise to cover the cost of advice work (£400 per day plus VAT). It will then reimburse the enterprise for half of the Adviser time, to a maximum of six days (£2,400) once the new co-operative enterprise is registered.

Who’s it for?

  • Owners then staff of non-co-op companies looking to become co-ops.

Brief description

  • Expert support (matched by the you) for organisations planning a co-operative employee buyout. Support with developing stakeholders, assessing the viability of a buy-out and establishing and implementing an action plan which leads to a buy-out of an existing business.

Maximum support

  • Maximum 7 days including a feasibility study (day 1), match-funded by the group.
  • This match funding fee (maximum £2,400) will be reimbursed to the client once you have completed and registered as a co-operative organisation.
  • The provider will be paid by the client directly for work undertaken – we will explain this further before we agree support with you.

Approach

Phase 1 | Feasibility study (one day): A one-day feasibility study of the organisation. This may include:

  • An overview of the business.
  • Clarification of the owner’s withdrawal expectations.
  • Recommendations of the most suitable model of co-operative employee ownership for the business.
  • A financial assessment to understand the potential buy-out timescale.
  • An implementation plan with number of days support required and costs associated.

This feasibility study will be given to the client, who will then decide whether to proceed.

If we are not convinced that co-operative employee ownership option is right for you, then no further support will be provided by the programme. We may be able to signpost you to the right kind of help.

Phase 2 | Delivery (max 6 days)

  • The programme agrees to provide up to 6 further days of advice (matched 50:50 by the client), to a maximum cost of £2,400 plus VAT. If the implementation plan requires more than 12 days support in total, the additional days required will be paid for by the client. This amount is payable directly to the organisation, only when it has completed the process and transitioned to the new structure.

Phase 3 | Embedding into the movement

  • Two years of membership of Co-operatives UK is included with this package to welcome your new co-op to the co-operative sector and help you make the most of your new co-operative structure.

Monitoring

You agree to provide us with feedback 6 months and 12 months after support is complete to help us measure impact.

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.

Community shares – more information

Activity

Format

2016 Timing / delivery

Costs

Community shares

4 days support 

Next step

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.

£100; or £75 for CUK members
 

Who’s it for?

  • Co-operative and community enterprises considering, developing and launching a community share offer.

Brief description

There are two pathways:

  • Development support: Support to enable you to develop your community share offer, including associated work on the underpinning business model, governance arrangements and community engagement.
  • Assessment support: Support on ensuring that your share offer meets good practice via the Standard Mark review process.

For both pathways, the support will be carried out by providers licensed by the Community Shares Unit and only those clients intending to strive for the Standard Mark will be supported.

Maximum support

  • 4 days

Approach

  • Development support: You should complete the Step-by-Step diagnostic tool to the relevant stage of your progress. The required actions that emerge from the tool will inform a work programme that we will develop in half a day with your group. We will then use the remaining time to work through the action areas with you. 
  • Assessment support: We will complete a Standard Mark Review using your offer documentation. This comprises an initial assessment, feeding back to you, and then a final assessment once the feedback has been actioned by the organisation. If the final assessment is positive, the Standard Mark will be awarded.

Monitoring

  • You agree to provide us with feedback 6 months and 12 months after support is complete to help us measure impact.

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.

→ Apply for peer mentoring

Apply for our peer mentoring scheme, and get matched with an experienced mentor who has 'been there and done it'. Watch a short video, read more below or take the next step.

Peer mentoring – more information

Activity

Format

2016 Timing / delivery

Costs

The role of a mentor is to build sustainable, trusting relationships with mentees (new and developing groups) in order to assist with setting up and developing your co-operative business and successfully help you to navigate the complex financial, regulatory and organisational hurdles.

Your mentor is there to:

  • Act as a sounding board and business friend
  • Generate problem solving ideas and encourage strategic thinking
  • Offer choices as opposed to directives
  • Help to spot problems, and support you to work through them

A mentor will listen, act as a sounding-board, provide inspiration, draw on their own experience and help avoid mistakes being made. Mentors can share their experience, offer options and help the mentee group to reflect. They will encourage and support your group to make the most of its potential. Mentors are NOT expected to provide specific business advice that the group will rely on and will refer groups to specific support providers, particularly when the group is ready for registration.

3 days mentoring support (4 days for community energy)

Next step

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.

£100; or £75 for CUK members


Hear from some of the groups and co-operatives who have already received expert advice and peer mentoring through The Hive. Read our case studies…

Updated: 26/01/2017