The community business sector in Scotland is growing and, to support this, Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) is working in partnership with Community Shares Scotland (CSS) and the Plunkett Foundation to raise awareness and improve access to support. The partnership has just launched a new video guide which introduces the subject of community business – so we caught up with our co-ops specialist, Jaye Martin, to find out more about the sector, the support available and why now is a key moment for community business in Scotland.
CDS has always supported community businesses and we have consistently seen interest from clients in this area but there has been a change of pace most noticeably in the last 12 months. Two key reasons for this are firstly, the ecosystem in Scotland has evolved with organisations like CDS, CSS and the Plunkett Foundation raising awareness of the benefits and providing support and advice. Secondly, the pandemic has shone a light on how we do businesses and created a desire for change. Everyone, particularly those in rural communities, has been very dependent on their local services and now, more than ever, there may be a desire to preserve and develop the resources that are important to those communities. Community businesses, especially community co-operatives, place democracy and concern for community at the heart of what they do and can provide an alternative way of working that has captured the interest of individuals, communities and businesses.
To improve access to support, CDS, CSS and the Plunkett Foundation offer a collaborative support package to help anyone considering setting up a community business in Scotland. A wide range of advice and practical support is available, including:
- Choosing the best business model
- Selecting a suitable legal structure
- Accessing funding
- Developing a community share offer
- Community engagement, including promoting a community share offer
- Company governance and managing the daily running of your business
- Specialist support for community business in rural communities
Our new video guide is a great introduction to the subject and the available support.
To find out more about Community Business Making it Easy visit: https://communitysharesscotland.org.uk/making-it-easy/
There is growing recognition of the value of community businesses, preserving community assets and generating economic value for their communities. COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated the importance of supporting communities to be innovative and take the step towards generating wealth locally, avoiding the return to normal economics.
In partnership with the Plunkett Foundation, and Community Shares Scotland, Co-operative Development Scotland ran their second Community Business: Making it Easy event this month providing key insight to the realities of establishing a community business and information about the support available.
Earlier this year Co-operative Development Scotland were part of a group that organised and hosted an event called Community Shops & Pubs: Making it Easy. The event was designed to enable communities take action to secure the future of their local shop or pub by helping them to better understand what projects of this nature entail and the support that is available to them. This was a fantastic event was well attended by community groups from across Scotland who were able to access advice on fundraising, governance and community engagement. Attendees also had the opportunity to speak to those already running community businesses and to learn from their experience.
On the day we caught up with some of the speakers from the event to find out what key bits of advice they would give to community groups considering setting up their own community business.
Gillian Kirton, project manager for Co-operative Development Scotland was there on the day and shares some of the key insights.
As we continue to Celebrate Co-ops Fortnight, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with Co-operative Development Scotland client, Glasgow Canals Co-op. Anna Young, Project Manager for the organisation, took part in a Q&A with us so we could find out a bit more about the Co-op, its purpose and how they #KeepCooperating.
Over the next two weeks we join our partners in celebrating Co-ops Fortnight. COVID-19 has left us facing extreme challenges for both public health and our economy, but positive lessons are being learned during this crisis, and we all want to harness this new culture of co-operation to change society for the better. Looking at this year’s theme of #KeepCooperating we caught up with Darah Zahran, team leader at Co-operative Development Scotland to get her take on why co-operatives will play a key part in our economic future.
As our thoughts turn to what our economy will look like post COVID-19, there are calls not to return to business as usual. There is an opportunity to create a fairer and more democratic alternative to what we’ve had in the past and community wealth building and co-operative business models will play a key role in that.
In our latest blog, we catch up with Suzanne Orchard, our specialist advisor for co-operatives to find out more about community co-operatives and why communities in Scotland are turning to this model to both safeguard vital local assets but also to generate economic benefit for the areas they live in.
Although the effects of COVID-19 are still being felt across the globe, there are good news stories coming through and in our new blog article Clare Alexander, head of Co-operative Development Scotland, discusses these in more detail along with what is happening in the employee ownership sector.
As we feel the unprecedented effects of COVID-19, the team at Co-operative Development Scotland want to offer our support in this incredibly difficult time to our clients.
The changes we have seen to every aspect of our lives at the moment may be overwhelming, but we would like to do what we can to help you with the immediate challenges your business or co-operative may be facing by signposting to the network of support available from the government and key partners. Links and details about support available are listed below.