Who is your co-operative for?

This section is split into two sections. By the end of it, you will be able to:

  • Identify the ‘community’ your co-operative business or organisation will serve.
  • Define your stakeholders and your 'key' stakeholders.

This section starts to looks at who your co-operative is for, could potentially impact on (in a positive or negative way) and who you might need to work with or engage early. This will help inform various aspects of your co-operative.

So we look directly at the ‘community’ your co-operative will serve and then other key stakeholders.

Identify your 'community'

Now you’re confident of the reason why your co-operatively run business or organisation should exist, you need to outline who the business is for. We define this as your ‘community’.

Community is in quotation marks because we know that community means different things to different co-operatives and social enterprises. You tend to be able to classify communities by their purpose for coming together:

  • Interest | Communities of people who share the same interest or passion.
  • Action | Communities of people trying to bring about change.
  • Place | Communities of people brought together by proximity or geography.
  • Practice | Communities of people in the same profession or who do the same activities.
  • Circumstance | Communities of people brought together by external events or situations.

Having spent time defining the need that your co-operative will address in your community, we now need to spend time defining:

  • Who the ‘community’ is
  • How the need being addressed will impact the community

Community analysis

Use the Community analysis template to define the community that your business will serve:

You will need to:

  • Describe or define the community that your social business will serve and gain support from. 
  • Are there socio-economic dimensions that define this community, for example is it rural or urban?  Is social exclusion a factor?
  • What is the approximate size of the community in terms of population, geographical area etc?
  • Describe how the unmet need(s) being addressed impact(s) this community. What is the scale of the need(s)?

Note: If you draw on research to do this, cite your sources.


Who are your stakeholders?

This section looks at how to do stakeholder analysis. Put simply:

  • A ‘stakeholder’ is anyone who will be affected by the activities of your co-operative.
  • Stakeholder analysis looks at what the relationship your co-operative will have with these stakeholders.

Why is stakeholder analysis useful?

Doing stakeholder analysis within your group could be incredibly helpful for a number of reasons:

  • It helps to clarify how your co-operative relates to the various elements of the ‘community’ it is, or will be, part of.
  • It will help you determine the most appropriate legal form for your co-operative – which we start to look at a bit later on in the process.
  • It will become the starting point for engaging key people and groups about your co-operative further down the line – including promoting your goods and services!

Stakeholder analysis

It’s best to do this activity as a group. Use this Stakeholder analysis template to identify your stakeholders and to prioritise these to identify your key stakeholders:

This activity will include:

  • Identifying the groups and bodies that have an interest in the success of the project. For example: those impacted by the co-operative; any strategic partners and/or investors; people working for your business; local authorities and government agencies.
  • For each of these groups, define: their interest in your co-operative; do you need to satisfy them?; will they (or should they) influence the development of your co-operative or in its’ governance when it is up and running.
  • You then need to prioritise your stakeholders. This will look at how important they are to you and how much influence they have. This will really define who or what your co-operative is working for.

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

Updated: 26/03/2019