Should my business be a co‑operative?

This section gives an overview of what a co-operative is, and asks you some simple questions to help you decide whether a co-operative model is best for your business or organisation.

What is a co-operative?

There are nearly 7,000 co-operatives across the UK. They range from multi-billion pound businesses to small community enterprises, and work in everything from healthcare to housing, renewables to retail, sports to social care. Together they contribute more than £34.1bn to the British economy.

  • Co-operatives are businesses owned and controlled by their members, who can be customers, staff, suppliers, local residents or a combination of these stakeholders
  • Members have an equal say in how the business is run
  • Members choose what to do with profits, whether distributing among members, reinvesting in the business or giving to the community
  • A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

The co-operative model is flexible. It works in sectors across the economy and can be organised in a range of ways. It enables businesses large and small to thrive, gives the people closest to the business a stake in it, harnesses their ideas and as a result boosts productivity. It is a tried and tested business model.

In this section

Is a co-operative right for me? • Benefits of co-operatives • Testing your business idea

Updated: 26/03/2019