Who is involved with setting up your co-operative?

By the end of this section, you will have identified:

  • The individual people who will be involved in the set up of your co-operative
  • How they will work together
  • What gaps you might have and how you will fill these gaps

No matter who kick starts a project to set up a co-operative, a 'steering group' of key people should always be created to drive the project forward.

A steering group will work together to see the ‘project’ through until the co-operative is set up. Once created, the co-operative and management structure put in place will replace the steering group.

Your steering group – things to consider

There are a number of things that need to be considered to set up the right steering group for your project:

Community representation

It’s important to ensure you have a strong representation from the ‘community’ your co-operative relates to.

  • What will be the form of that representation in your social business? 
  • How formal is it - is/are the representative(s) appointed by another body (e.g. a parish council) or are they self-appointed?
  • Are they recognised by the community as leaders or representatives, and can they feed back to the community?


Your steering group needs the right people with the right skills and expertise in order for it to be set up properly.

  • Who else is involved and what expertise do they bring to the project?
  • What gaps in expertise do you have? What is the recruitment plan to fill these gaps?

Managing your steering group

Making sure your steering group deliver what is needed – setting up the co-operatively run business or organisation.

  • You should ensure your steering group has ‘proper’ meetings. Set-up regular meetings to discuss aspects of your projects and, importantly, make decisions which are agreed and recorded.
  • It’s important to have a defined group that external organisations can recognise as the people they need to deal with.


You need to be confident that the people on your steering group are committed to see the project through.

  • Committed to the project with a combination of time, energy and probably money.
  • Ensure at least three people who are on the steering group should be prepared to be the first board of directors – the Founder Members.

Founder members

  • There should be at least three people who are prepared to be the first board of directors – the 'Founder Members'.
  • Usually, most of the steering group will become most of the Founder Members so they should be prepared for this from the outset. 

Creating your steering group

Using this Steering group description template:

Outline the following:

  • Name every member of the steering group, give a short biographical profile, describe the roles that they have been given, their areas of expertise, contributions made to date and their future commitments.
  • How the group works together.
  • Gaps in the steering group – e.g. are there any gaps in skills or representatives from a key stakeholder group? How do you propose filling these gaps?

The information and tools in this section have been developed by our colleagues at the Co-operative Assistance Network.

Updated: 26/03/2019