As part of our Reset and Rebuild campaign, we hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with experts from across Scotland to further explore the role inclusive business models can play in the recovery of the economy following the COVID-19 crisis.

The social and economic impact of the pandemic has undoubtedly fueled calls for a stronger and fairer economy that puts people and planet before profit and distributes wealth more evenly. Our experts shared their knowledge, insight and experience on how models such as employee ownership, community co-operatives and consortium co-operatives can help drive a fairer economy forward. 

You can watch our roundtable highlights video or read below for some of the key takeaways from the discussion.

“Scotland really is at the cusp of leading this new wave; the challenge is that we need to do a lot more to make inclusive business models the mainstream. The levers we need to get there range from advice, training, planning and procurement – all of this matters when it comes to creating an economy designed for people and planet.”

“The economy needs to serve higher order goals. In the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Business guide, we have distilled this down into five needs; connection, dignity, fairness, nature and participation. These are the sort of goals that we need to be thinking about when we design an economic ecosystem. The good news is that pro-social inclusive business models do this or at least they are working pro-actively towards this. These sets of goals are in their DNA and that is very exciting.”

Dr. Katherine Trebeck, Advocacy and Influencing Lead, Wellbeing Economy Alliance

“The economy is how we organise and fulfil our material needs and wants in order for the people in our household, our community, our society to live a good and flourishing life…This is a chance to build an alternative economic system that better meets the needs of people and planet.”

“Inclusive business models could provide an example of a form of real utopia….We need a shift so that inclusive business models are viewed as mainstream rather than an afterthought or an alternative to the mainstream.”

Michael Roy, Professor of Economic Sociology and Social Policy, Glasgow Caledonian University

“As a result of the pandemic and growing concerns around climate change, consumers are starting to demand more of the businesses they buy from, principally around social responsibility. This is particularly relevant in the tourism sector where we are seeing a renewed appeal for community businesses and social enterprises. These business models are providing a unique selling point in a crowded marketplace.”

Carron Tobin, Development Manager, Argyll & The Isles Tourism Cooperative

“Even with Scotland’s success in this area, when you consider the compelling arguments and the unusual position that it has with support from all of the main political parties, together with the tax advantages, we should have a lot more employee-owned businesses and co-operatives than we do.

This is an area where many business leaders are missing out financially and so too are their employees. This is especially so when an exit plan is being formed; without all the benefits of employee ownership being first investigated and considered.”

Colin Wade, Managing Director, Chemco

“This is the busiest we’ve ever been – we’re seeing that community co-operatives are a really strong and resilient business model. Now is the moment for community businesses.”

Morven Lyon, Programme Manager, Community Shares Scotland

“Community wealth building is about the reconstruction of our economy through action – we need to keep doing what we’re doing and shout about it loudly too.”

“The moment we’re in is crucial, the combination of pandemic impact and climate change will prompt people into action.”

Neil McInroy, Chief Executive, CLES

“Despite the pandemic, as many firms became employee-owned in Scotland in 2020 as they did in 2019, and in some areas of Scotland, such as the Highlands and Islands, employee ownership is quickly becoming the go to option for business owners when succession planning.”

Ralph Leishman BA CA FRSA MIoD, Director, 4-consulting

For more information about Co-operative Development Scotland and inclusive business models, please get in touch with us here using the ‘expert support’ option.