Tuesday 29 March 2011

167 Years of Revolution

The Co-operative is a well known feature on High Streets across the UK. They have 5, 000 outlets, including shops, banks, funeral services, legal services all of which are ultimately owned by The Co-operative's six million members.

This model of business ownership has become well known to a lot of people and is used by a lot of organisations, for example there are housing co-operatives, health care co-operatives and many small co-operatively run businesses across the UK. All are owned and democratically controlled by their members, who may include employees, customers and local residents. The co-operative business model is a great way of running a business as it spreads risk and reward equally among those who have a stake in the business, it is often more intimately connected with the community in which it is based than many businesses are. The Co-operative can give help and advice to people wanting to set up their own co-operative business.

When the Rochdale Pioneers set up the first co-operative in 1844 it was revolutionary! Right from the start the Rochdale Pioneers distributed a proportion of their profits to their members. The Co-operative continues profit sharing to this day.

As well as its commitment to member ownership, The Co-operative has also been a pioneer in ethical business practices, for instance in 1985 The Co-operative banned the use of animal testing for its own brand toiletries and in 2003 it made the decision that all own brand coffee would be fair-trade. In 1992 the Co-operative Bank became the world's first bank to introduce a customer led ethical policy, which makes it the first choice of bank for people who care what happens to their money.

To mark this long term success, The Co-operative has just launched a multi media advertising campaign Join the revolution to highlight their ethical credentials. The campaign features people and groups that The Co-operative have empowered to bring their own revolutions to life. One of my favourite highlighted projects is Urban Bees, which was set up by bee-lovers Brian McCallum and Alison Benjamin. Brian and Alison have set up 20 new hives on rooftops and in community gardens and allotments across London, and they will have given training and start-up equipment to approximately 300 people in the city by the end of 2011. This taps in very well to the current increasing interest in self sufficiency and urban food growing.

Urban Bees is not just a one-off either. The Co-operative is very committed to bees and runs Plan Bee a campaign to save the honey bee.

Do you think you could set up a project as vital as Urban Bees? The Co-operative is looking for new ideas for revolutions in the UK, in the following categories:

  • Benefiting the community

  • Combating climate change

  • Inspiring young people

  • Tackling global poverty

If you have an idea Get involved - the most popular idea in each of five regions of the UK will win £5 000 to help make it happen!

You can also follow The Co-operative on Facebook. Sponsored Post

Partage propulse par ebuzzing


Wild_Bill said...

I am not aware of any cooperatives in the States that has this broad array of services for their members. Banks, and funerals? This is amazing. Here we have cooperative banks (some in name only), cooperative food stores (which always seem to get taken over by the wealthy and carry items that no normal person could afford), and cooperative food growing programs ( a remarkable success!).

Thanks for this inspirational message. I'm going to look into this more.

Eryl said...

The Coop really is rather admirable, I feel, having managed to maintain its integrity for so long. The revolution thing sounds interesting too. We have the old academy standing vacant here now the kids have a brand new school, and some of us would like to keep it for the community rather than have it turned into flats.

Caroline Gill said...

A very informative post. I enjoyed visiting the bee site. We begin to see the Co(-)op in a new light when we start to probe a little below the surface. Thank you, Juliet.

Anonymous said...

Wow, we have nothing like that in Australia (as far as I am aware) - sounds great.

RG said...

Good luck on that venture! You may be familiar with Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) which is a cooperative and originally was just called The Co-op!

Anonymous said...

What a FANTASTIC idea! Bees do need looking out for what with the virus that is now so commonly spread, something to do with the Varroa mite now carrying it I believe. Will go and have a look at the site now ;)

Lisa Alto said...

I love the co-op and may be their number one fan as I use so many if their services, the bank, insurance co, food shops. I could go on! I hope they have many more successful years of ethical operations.