Tag: cooperatives (Page 1 of 2)

COLLABORATION PRIZE WINNER SPOTLIGHT – Healthworks

We’ll be taking a closer look at each of our Collaboration Prize winners and learning more about their plans for the future. Next up is Healthworks…

Healthworks Consortium, L-R Niall Gosman, Marney Ackroyd, Karen Davidson, Kevin Dewar

Healthworks members Niall Gosman, Marney Ackroyd, Karen Davidson, Kevin Dewar

Healthworks is a new consortium formed of health and wellbeing professionals based in East Lothian.  It works in partnership with businesses to optimise their employees’ physical, psychological and personal wellbeing,

Comprising four member businesses, Healthworks offers a range of expertise in areas including physiotherapy, nutrition, psychological therapies and counselling, fitness training, behavioural risk management training and employee health assessments.  Working with businesses to identify the health and behavioural risks and barriers that prevent them from getting the best from their employees, Healthworks develops innovative, integrated health and wellbeing services and solutions that clients can ‘own’.  Each service is designed to address the unique needs and culture of the individual business and delivered in the way that best meets their needs.

Karen Davison from Healthworks spoke to us about winning the Prize:  “We are thrilled to have been selected as one of the winners and are looking forward to working together to develop programmes which will have a wide-reaching benefit for both employees and their employers. The generous prize will help us brand, package and promote our offering to get it in front of the right people, as well as enable us to develop new resources and tools to boost the services we can deliver, both face to face and online.

“Working together in this manner is beneficial for many reasons – not only does it allow us to access more opportunities and secure larger scale contracts, it also gives us all an excellent degree of professional satisfaction. Delivering a truly comprehensive service that reflects the many intricate aspects of an individual’s health and wellbeing requires a tailored approach incorporating expert knowledge and experience across a range of disciplines. We believe collaboration is the most effective way of providing this, and are hopeful that we can continue to develop our offering as we are joined by members in further areas of expertise.”

Healthworks Consortium, L-R Kevin Dewar, Karen Davidson, Niall Gosman, Marney Ackroyd

The member businesses in Healthworks are:

  • Dovetail Partnerships (North) Ltd, East Lothian
  • First for Fitness, East Lothian
  • Midlothian Physiotherapy LLP, Midlothian
  • Marney Ackroyd, Edinburgh

Five points from Italy’s co-operative capital

Jaye Martin 03CDS specialist advisor Jaye Martin recently took part in a study trip to Emilia Romagna, the area of northern Italy with probably the richest co-operative history in the world.

Here, she reflects on the visit and looks at how Scotland can learn from the region.

The tour I was lucky enough to be part of was a collaboration between the University of Bologna and Saint Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax, Canada. I joined a group of students undertaking a part-time Master’s Degree in Co-operative Management at SMU, all of whom are managers at co-operatives across Canada and the United States. Their organisations include food co-ops, insurance co-ops, credit unions and co-op development and their experiences provided me with valuable insight.

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One of the Towers of Bologna

Our chief executive, Sarah Deas, wrote a series of comprehensive blogs on her own experiences in Emilia Romagna a couple of years ago. With that in mind, I thought I’d simply touch on my highlights reel – although I can assure you that it was an intense eight days packed with visits to co-operatives and lectures on co-operative theory and economics!

So here’s my five most interesting points of learning:

1. Co-operatives are one of the most important tools in the reduction of inequality  Bologna – the capital of the Emilia Romagna region – has a lower unemployment  rate than other Italian cities. Emilia Romagna itself ranks first in Italy in terms of equality, evidenced by high average income and low income inequality.  Female participation in the workplace is significantly higher in Emilia Romagna (c65%) than in the rest of Italy (c45%). All of this can be linked back to the presence of co-operatives in the area.

IMG_01532. Social co-operatives… the future?

Legislation was introduced in Italy to create the legal and tax structure for the ‘social co-operative’ (what we might call a ‘social firm’).  At least 30% of employees must be categorised as disadvantaged (e.g. those affected by drug or alcohol addiction, physical or mental disabilities).  We visited some wonderful examples, such as Cooperativo Il Cammino e L’altro Giardino (‘The Alternative Garden’), a residence and gardens where herbs, fruit and vegetables are grown and used to make products such as jams and syrups.  Social co-operatives were oft-mentioned as the potential future growth area of the sector, but funding and support is increasingly hard to come by – so much will depend on the economic sustainability of projects and how they diversify and adapt to achieve this.

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Caseificio 4 Madonne

3. Caseificio 4 Madonne and the mix of the traditional and the innovative

My favourite visit – and not just because we got to taste all the lovely Parmigiano Reggiano cheese! Caseificio 4 Madonne is one of 350 Parmigiano Reggiano co-operatives in the region and together they form a huge consortium.  Caseificio 4 has 65-70 member farmers and produces 104 wheels of cheese each day.  We were shown the various stages of production and I was struck by the clever merging of traditional methods (e.g. use of muslin cloths and copper cauldrons) and innovative methods without the loss of the integrity and provenance of the product.  Perhaps something for Scottish food and drink companies to consider?

4. Co-operative funds – replicable here?

Co-operatives in Italy must pay 3% of their annual profits into one of three funds (each controlled by one of the three co-operative associations).  We visited Coopfond, the largest of the funds at 422m EUR and controlled by Legacoop.  The fund is used for the promotion of start-up co-operatives, growth capital for expansion and support for co-operatives in financial distress.  They will also help fund worker buyouts such as Greslab.  Given the issues around access to finance for employee-owned businesses and co-operatives in the UK, could a similar initiative be a potential game-changer?

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Our group outside University of Bologna

5. The importance of international connections

This study trip was important not just for the opportunity to see and hear about the strength of co-operative models in the region, but also to meet and discuss with fellow co-operators from Italy, Canada, USA and England.  Everyone in the group had a different interest or angle to their observations and questions and, for me, that was just as fascinating as the visits and lectures themselves. What is clear is that we should seek to build on these experiences, relationships and learning as far as possible as we continue to support company growth in Scotland using co-operative business models.

What do Co-operatives mean to you?

What words spring to mind when you think of co-operatives? Do you think of a specific business model or company? Perhaps you think of the business benefits? Maybe you reflect on your own experience?

We asked our team for their suggestions and compiled the answers into this word cloud – which we think is a terrific summary.CDS word cloud

What would you add to the list?

 

Avarix – a model approach?

Gavin Tosh1Inspired by a “Hackathon”, a novel consortium made up of IT students and business consultants is helping build fledgling careers and establish reputations across the world.

Linked to the University of Strathclyde, Avarix has already worked with some of the world’s largest companies. Here, Gavin Tosh of Clerwood Legal Services looks at how they’ve achieved that success.

Avarix is a consortium comprising computer science students at the University of Strathclyde and business consultants with their own companies who work part time for the university’s Enterprise Hub.

The initial idea for Avarix came from a cross-university “Hackathon”, where several universities collaborated to tackle a real-life technical challenge for an external organisation using video conferencing.

The success of this collaboration prompted an approach to Co-operative Development Scotland to form a formal consortium. With the help expert advisers – myself and Gill Joy of Intend Business Development – the consortium successfully formed and was incorporated on 31st January 2015.

This model helps Avarix capitalise on the significant technical talent amongst the computer science students by allying them with external business expertise in one commercial entity.

avarix logoWhile work for external customers was being undertaken by individuals already, including for big name companies such as JP Morgan, Barclays, VISA, Amazon, SkyScanner and the Mozilla Foundation, the experts did not have the capacity to handle multiple requests or more complex jobs. Being part of the consortium removes this constraint and offers greater capacity for work.

The consortium has already delivered several benefits for members. In the first three months of trading alone, Avarix secured orders worth over £150k.

Bringing together the varying skills of members means Avarix can pursue wider business opportunities and bid for different kinds of work. To help cope with peaks in demand and grow the customer base, the core group wanted to be able to formally involve other students in the business.

The consortium co-operative provided a flexible membership structure, allowing students to both carry out work and potentially join the consortium as associate or full members.

Inevitably some student members will need to leave for various reasons, such as gaining full-time employment out-with Scotland. The consortium cooperative makes this process easy, unlike say a company limited by shares.

Having access to funding and reduced operating costs provides a stable financial base and student members benefit from good business experience. Combining resources means members have a greater overall marketing budget, which has helped attract new business.

The external consultants will share in the commercial success of the team but can still manage and grow their own businesses independently.

With early signs of success, more clients in the pipeline and students keen to be a part of Avarix,

could this be a model which can be replicated in other Scottish universities and colleges in sectors other than IT/computer science?

Can Scotland learn from the Basque experience?

Jim_Maxwell,_Business_Development_Manager,_Co-operative_Development_Scotland_resizedThe Mondragon Corporation – based in Spain’s Basque region – has evolved from humble beginnings to become the country’s tenth largest company.

Here, Jim Maxwell of CDS discusses how a recent visit to the area highlighted the benefits of the worker co-operative model.

Equality and a fairer society are at the heart of our new economic strategy for Scotland so in a recent visit to Spain I was keen to see how those same goals are being addressed in the Basque Country.

Started in 1956 by a local priest motivated to reduce poverty in three narrow, steeply sided valleys south of Bilbao, the Mondragon Corporation has evolved into a ‘mega-co-operative’, providing work for 74,000 people in 110, mainly industrial, worker-owned co-operatives.

View over Mondragon’s many co-operatives

View over Mondragon’s many co-operatives

Mondragon’s mission is the creation of wealth in society, delivered through a system of membership, rather than just employment for its workers. In return for a small input of initial capital and monthly contributions, each member receives a good salary and an excellent range of social and welfare benefits.

Equality and fairness are central to this system. The highest salary is no more than six times that of the lowest, all are entitled to the same benefits and no-one is paid overtime.  At the end of each year resources are transferred between companies to help strengthen those in difficulty and preserve jobs.

Job security is a hot topic in Mondragon at present. Following the closure last year of one of the member co-ops, Fagor Electrodomestico, all but 223 of its 2,000 workers have now been redeployed to jobs elsewhere in the group or have taken early retirement. A supreme effort is being made to find posts for the remaining 223, all of whom continue to receive 80 per cent of their salary.

Most surprising is the speed at which all this has been achieved.  The Mondragon Corporation took its present form only in 1992. Its overarching structures – a bank (‘Caja Laboral’), nine technical research institutes, the Mondragon University and a central co-ordinating body – have all been created within just a few decades.

Such rapid growth has been possible because of the highly engaged workforce and Mondragon’s treatment of capital as primarily a resource for the creation of sustainable employment and the improvement of people’s lives.

Mondragon Corporation's Training and Development Centre

Mondragon Corporation’s Training and Development Centre

The visionary model is impressive, but Mondragon has to be judged by its achievements.  Collaboration between the member co-operative companies has enabled all, with one exception, to survive the recession.

There have been virtually no lob losses among members across the group and a good standard of living has been provided to all. The Mondragon Corporation’s focus on creating ‘wealth in society’ has resulted in the Basque area having the most equal redistribution of wealth in Europe, as measured by Eurostat.

But a word of caution, the Mondragon model may not transfer easily to other places. What evolved south of Bilbao was in direct response to local needs and opportunities – poverty, weak state services, a strong sense of ‘national’ identity and a collective will to expand underperforming industries when the Franco regime ended in 1975.

So what can Scotland learn from all this? In Mondragon we have the clearest possible view of how the worker-owned business model can succeed. More than this, it shows how striving for socio-economic (not simply economic) outcomes can help create a fairer and more equal society.

This might be just the right moment to consider how worker-ownership could play a bigger part in shaping the future Scottish economy.

Free workshops on tendering together

Gill headshot 2

A series of free workshops on Tendering Together will be held by the Supplier Development Programme (SDP) from next month.

Here, Gillian Cameron, programme manager at SDP describes why the workshops will be a major help to Scottish business.

Our two part course, starting in May, is designed for companies and third sector organisations which have a good level of tendering experience and are looking to increase their market through collaborative bids.

Businesses can choose to attend the first part of the course in May – either in Falkirk on May 19, Glasgow on May 21 or Edinburgh on May 28 – with all delegates then able to attend the second day in the Lighthouse, Glasgow on June 4.

Topics include:

  • Why collaborate – opportunities and barriers
  • Types of collaboration
  • Finding and assessing partners, early discussions
  • Preparing a joint proposal/tender – tips and templates
  • Consortium agreements, legal documents

This is a unique opportunity for SMEs to get expert training on what it means to work collaboratively together.

There are a number of fantastic business opportunities coming up in Scotland for 2015, including Glasgow’s City Deal. By working collaboratively SMEs can ensure they are best placed to benefit and compete within the market place.

Places are limited and companies interested in attending should reserve their free place via www.sdpscotland.co.uk.

For more information contact info@sdpscotland.co.uk

Bright future ahead for Collaboration Prize winners

Adventures in LightAt the end of March, we announced the winners of our Collaboration Prize. One of those winners was Adventures in Light, an Edinburgh-based consortium which triumphed in our tendering category.

Here, chairwoman Cristina Spiteri discusses the group’s excitement at being named a winner and how they plan to use the prize money.

This is a hugely exciting time for Adventures in Light. There are three individuals in our group – a 3D artist, filmmaker and carpenter – and we have big plans and are ready to shine.

While we are individual businesses, we have been collaborating together for two years. In fact, we’ve already enjoyed a number of successes and have so far worked with the Edinburgh Science Festival, T in the Park, The Tinderbox Orchestra and Scottish Dance Theatre.

Adventures in LightBut when we found out there was a way for us to form a business from our collaboration, we were really excited. It’s absolutely perfect for us and we were already naturally working in that way.

Winning the Collaboration Prize will open up so many doors for us. Our vision is to create dynamic projected installations for musical and cultural performances.

Adventures in LightWe also have a focus on utilising projection mapping for brand promotion and interior design, something which is currently not available from one company in Scotland. And thanks to CDS and the Collaboration Prize, we can engage more prospective clients.

By working as a consortium, we can pool our expertise to allow for seamless ideas from creation to execution. The prize money will allow us to purchase more advanced equipment and embark on more ambitious installations.

It makes sense for clients to talk to one body rather than three individual businesses. It also means we can grow to involve other companies and artists to go for bigger jobs. Forming our official consortium is so exciting and offers so much growth potential for us.

Want to keep up-to-date with Adventures in Light? Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Vimeo.

Eyes on the Prize: Screen Facilities Scotland

In just under two weeks, we’ll be announcing the winners of this year’s Collaboration Prize.

Over recent weeks, we’ve been looking at past winners including The Wee Agency and Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland. Now, our focus turns to Screen Facilities Scotland (SFS).

SFS, winners of the competition in 2012, is a collaboration of Scottish-based film, television and commercials facilities companies.

Before joining forces, members felt that many lucrative contracts were being won by businesses based outside Scotland – particularly in the south-east of the UK.

By forming a consortium co-operative, they would be able to pitch for work in a more efficient and cohesive way. In the process, they could increase core business and help to grow the Scottish film, TV and commercials production sector.

They would also become a voice for the industry, pressing the cause for more support and facilities for production companies across the country.

We’ll be looking at a previous winner of the Collaboration Prize each week on CDSblog.co.uk, ahead of our big announcement…

Eyes on the prize – Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland

As we inch closer to the announcement of this year’s Collaboration Prize winners, we’re looking back at past successes.

We first showcased The Wee Agency and this week we turn our attention to Music Co-OPERATIVE Scotland.

In 2011, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera moved from full-time to part-time working. Keen to ensure a positive future, members chose to form a consortium co-operative to sell their services.

They entered the Collaboration Prize in 2012 and were selected as one of the winners. And with our support, they were able to make their collaborative dream a reality.

We’ll be looking at a previous winner of the Collaboration Prize each week on CDSblog.co.uk, ahead of our big announcement…

Diversifying together could be the new way of working…

Jaye Martin 03A recent event, organised by the Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) in conjunction with Robert Gordon University’s Business School in Aberdeen, illustrated that the offshore wind market represents a big opportunity for Scottish SMEs who currently operate in oil and gas.

CDS specialist adviser Jaye Martin was there to share her expertise on how collaborative working could be the key to making a move in to this new area a reality…

The ETP – the largest power and energy research partnership in Europe – organised this event to help equip Scottish SMEs to make the move from oil and gas into offshore renewables.

With three new wind farms recently gaining consent and an imminent decision expected on the contract for a further wind farm, there has never been a better time to take advantage of this developing market.

Delegates at the workshop listened to first-hand experiences from Scottish businesses that have already successfully ‘straddled the divide’, such as Seaway Heavy Lifting and Ecosse Subsea Systems.

There were also discussions on the regulatory and contractual landscape of offshore renewables compared to oil and gas and the supply chains and alliances pertinent to the offshore wind sector.

The various funding opportunities available for SMEs looking to diversify were showcased, including Scottish Enterprise’s Offshore Wind Expert Support, Enterprise Europe Network Scotland, Interface and new SMART/R&D grant funding for alliances.

I featured as one of the workshop’s ‘three-minute wonders’ which gave me a small (but perfectly formed) opportunity to talk to the audience about CDS and the support we can provide for companies considering collaborative working as a means to enter new markets.

Throughout the afternoon words such as partnering, alliances, consortia were commonplace and it was clear the audience had an appetite for trying something new in an industry which has yet to standardise approach.

CDS looks forward to working with more SMEs in this sector as they look to conquer new markets, we can add real value with our business models to diversify for success.

Eyes on the Prize – The Wee Agency

It’s almost time to reveal this year’s Collaboration Prize winners!

But before we unveil the lucky consortia each receiving  £10,000 to make their collaborative dream a reality, we wanted to take a look at some of our past winners who have gone on to great things.

First up is The Wee Agency, a collaboration between design specialists 2bcreative, IT company Alchemy+ and PR and digital marketing consultancy, Muckle Media.

They won the Collaboration Prize in 2013 and have since gone from strength to strength, working together to tender for contracts under one banner.

We’ll be looking at a previous winner of the Collaboration Prize each week on CDSblog.co.uk, ahead of our big announcement…

The power of collaboration

Gavin Tosh1Working together can help businesses reach the next level, but the need to form a legal entity can sometimes be seen as off-putting.

Here, Gavin Tosh of Clerwood Legal Services discusses how forming a consortium is a simple option for companies looking to reap the benefits of collaboration.

Many businesses work together. This can be for a variety of reasons, but lack of formalisation can limit how far this goes.  Should they want to open a bank account for joint funds or enter into contracts, it is likely an identifiable legal entity will need to be created.

For some, this may sound like a costly commitment. However, there is a model which allows for the formation of the necessary legal entity with minimal financial or legal commitment:  the consortium co-operative.

Consortiums offer an ideal solution for businesses looking to collaborate while retaining their own independence. Members can be limited companies, partnerships or individuals, with membership any size from two upwards.

The benefits are numerous:

  • Reduce costs of doing business
  • Share the risks when exploring new markets
  • Jointly tender for contracts
  • Buy, sell or market on behalf of members
  • Share facilities such as back offices or premises
  • Attract funding
  • Employ staff

Clerwood Legal Services has worked in conjunction with CDS for a number of years, delivering training to SMEs on collaborative tendering techniques. Now, along with Intend Business Development, we are serving as specialist advisers, helping businesses through the process of forming consortium co-operatives.

A Valentine’s message

As we are celebrating Valentine’s Day today, we asked members of the CDS team to tell us what they love most about co-operative working.

Gillian Kirton: I love the “we are all in it together” attitude we often hear from employee owned companies – it makes the staff go that extra mile!

Carol Boden: Employee ownership helps make the business world a fairer place through empowerment and engagement of all staff members.

Jaye Martin: I love co-operatives because the consortium model can be a great way for small businesses to collaborate and compete with larger companies.

Cathy McCready: I love the fact that cooperatives work together to grow together.

What do you love most about co-operative working? Why not tweet us, @cdscotland.

Inspiring day to drive growth in employee ownership

Glen DottNearly 350 delegates from businesses of all sizes visited the West Midlands last week for the inaugural InspireEO conference, hosted by the John Lewis Partnership (JLP).

Several high-profile speakers addressed a large audience which included prominent government and business figures. Not only did it motivate businesses – it has set the tone for a Scottish event of its own, as CDS specialist advisor Glen Dott explains.

Sitting among the hundreds of entrepreneurs who had gathered to participate in the first-ever InspireEO conference, you couldn’t help but feel motivated and excited for the future.

Gathering in the West Midlands were representatives from businesses across the United Kingdom, keen to hear the benefits of employee ownership (EO) from one of its most well-known proponents.

In hosting InspireEO, JLP provided a platform to promote employee-owned business models of all types. They used their own approach as an example to demonstrate the benefits EO offers both the company and its staff. EOA0037

Supported by several high-profile sponsors, the event underlined the widespread and growing endorsement of EO to exiting owners, advisors and the public sector.

Productivity in EO businesses grew 4.5 per cent last year while others flat-lined, demonstrating the value of the model for sustainable growth. People who work in such businesses are happier and healthier, taking less time off sick.

Business advisers were also in attendance and helped sponsor the event. Not only does this highlight the increasing interest in EO from businesses, but it demonstrates there is growing recognition among the advisor community of the model.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, the chairman of 80,000 partner-strong JLP, was joined by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office. Both addressed the audience and in doing so demonstrated just how important EO is to business and the economy.

Sir Charlie Mayfield

Sir Charlie Mayfield

So inspirational was last week’s gathering that we are preparing to have a similar conference in Scotland later in the year.

Awareness and support for employee ownership is growing in Scotland and we are hoping to attract a large audience.  An engaging programme of activity is being prepared, along with some truly inspirational speakers to demonstrate why EO offers a bright future not just to Scottish businesses, but to Scotland as a whole.

We’ll be announcing full details later in the year. Hopefully I’ll see you there.

‘Poster Girl’ role for CDS’ Sarah Deas

Sarah Deas Games Poster

A new exhibition celebrating the contribution of volunteers at last year’s Commonwealth Games has opened at Glasgow Green – with CDS’ own Sarah Deas featuring on the posters to promote it!

Hosted by Glasgow Life, the gallery features hundreds of photographs of the Host City Volunteers who came together to help make the event a tremendous success.

With people coming from all across the country to take part, working together to show Scotland at its’ best, it’s no wonder it was described by many as ‘the Co-operative Games’.

For more information on the exhibition, which runs until August, click here.

Tourism co-operative’s ambitious plans for 2015

Port Appin

Hosting international events such as the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in 2014 put Scotland firmly in the global spotlight as a top visitor destination. With such opportunity, many businesses are considering how to best take advantage of this new-found fame.

Carron Tobin, development manager of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative (ATIC), explains why being part of a consortium is helping many of Scotland’s west coast tourism businesses capitalise on the country’s time in the limelight.

Last year was an unprecedented one for Scotland, with sport, politics, the Homecoming gathering and historical anniversaries giving the country international attention like never before.

Not only did it cement our reputation as a land of spectacular scenery and a friendly welcome, it established Scotland as a vibrant and contemporary tourism destination that has the capacity to wow as much as it does charm.

This offers a tremendous opportunity for tourism businesses – and when it comes to having a competitive advantage, we believe being part of our co-operative consortium really helps us stand out from the crowd.

Coll beach

When we formed in 2012, businesses of varying sizes across the area pooled finances, contacts and industry knowledge to create an umbrella brand and marketing plan to set Argyll and the Isles apart from the rest of Scotland and the UK as an unmissable tourist destination.

By offering a range of attractive products that tour operators can sell to their customers, we have enjoyed real success, reaching more markets and potential customers than we would ever have managed individually.

This year though – more than ever – we can see the true value of being part of our co-operative as we prepare to launch our most ambitious bid yet to attract more tour operators to our area and our businesses.

For the first time, we will exhibit at three major international trade shows in a single year, supplementing our usual stand at VisitScotland’s EXPO in April, with trips to the Best of Britain & Ireland and Explore GB trade shows.

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative’s board. From left, Carron Tobin, David Currie, Calum Ross, Niall Macalister Hall, chairman Gavin Dick, Iain Jurgensen, Andrew Wilson, Brian Keating and Fiona McPhail.

Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative’s board. From left, Carron Tobin, David Currie, Calum Ross, Niall Macalister Hall, chairman Gavin Dick, Iain Jurgensen, Andrew Wilson, Brian Keating and Fiona McPhail.

These events are vital to engage with tour operators across the world and have potential to attract thousands of new customers for our businesses, taking advantage of Scotland’s incredible 2014.

Quite simply, we couldn’t have done this as individual companies or local marketing groups. By working together, we have given our region a genuine competitive edge and delivered a significant boost to members’ trade – underlining just how effective being part of a consortium co-operative can be.

Your Collaboration Prize questions answered

Jaye Martin 03The Collaboration Prize aims to encourage companies to form a consortium to improve their combined business prospects, with up to three winners each receiving prizes of £5,000 in cash and £5,000 support.

This year’s competition is looking for applications that show how forming a consortium could improve marketing, tendering or innovation operations.

Ahead of Friday’s deadline for entries, CDS specialist adviser Jaye Martin answered questions on the competition in a live Twitter Q&A.

Want to work with others and do things bigger, better and faster? Then forming a consortium co-operative could be for you. The potential benefits are numerous:

  • Build a new collective brand and combine resources to reach bigger audiences.
  • Share the risks of expanding into new markets with your partners
  • Compete for larger, more valuable contracts
  • Gain a competitve advantage through economies of scale
  • Have an equal say in the running of the consortium co-operative

During last week’s Q&A, we answered a number of questions from interested parties:

 

 

 

The Collaboration Prize is open to all Scottish businesses, large or small and from any sector. There are three categories – marketing, tendering and innovating – with £10,000 available for each winner.

Remember – the deadline for entries is 3pm on Friday 28 November. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity!

A golden visit – part three

???????????????????????????????From October 6 to 9, Quebec in Canada hosted the second edition of the International Summit of Cooperatives, with the main theme being the power of innovation.

Here, CDS chief executive Sarah Deas discusses a US organisation driving employee ownership and takes a trip to a co-operative shopping quarter.

The first part of the blog can be read here and the second part can be read here.

An ESOP (Employee Share Ownership Plan) is another form of employee ownership that is becoming more widely adopted. So, I was delighted to meet Perry Phillips and Camille Jensen (pictured above), from the specialist consultancy, ESOP Builders.

They highlighted that there are now approximately 1000 Canadian ESOPs, the majority (80%) having come about as a succession solution. Most famous is WestJet Airline, where 80% of staff are employee owners (modelled on Southwest Airlines).

Sarah with Roy Messing

Sarah with Roy Messing

I was also delighted to meet Roy Messing, Chris Cooper and Bill McIntyre of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center. Established in 1987, the centre has helped 694 companies consider ownership succession, resulting in 92 employee buyouts and creating 15,000 employee owners. In America there is legislation to support the creation of ESOPs – see my previous blog.

The Center was the driving force behind Evergreen Cooperative – the innovative model of socio-economic development in Cleveland. Whilst there are similarities in our approach, there is clearly much that Scotland can learn from OEOC’s 27 years’ experience. Interestingly, they are currently establishing a Cooperative Development Center – an area where we can share our experience.

???????????????????????????????A visit to Quebec is not complete without a visit to the Quartier Petit Champlain. This delightful shopping quarter in the old city is a co-operative owned by its tenants. 50 artists and traders formed a co-operative to buy the properties. Desjardins, the leading financial co-operative, supported members with loan finance.

A co-operative model was chosen for practical reasons – an ideal model that allows shared management of the buildings and promotion of the quarter to tourists. An elected board has oversight, including approval of new tenants/owners and all members are invited to attend an annual assembly.

So, how do I summarise this visit? A golden experience – not just the leaves on trees, the abundance of pumpkins and the warm hospitality but also in the richness of learning. Thanks to everyone that was so open in sharing your story. Let’s stay in touch!

A golden visit – part two

image7From October 6 to 9, Quebec in Canada hosted the second edition of the International Summit of Cooperatives, with the main theme being the power of innovation.

Here, CDS chief executive Sarah Deas looks at the approaches taken by co-operatives in Argentina, Spain and France.

The first part of the blog can be read here.

We heard from the Argentinian Federation of Worker Co-operatives in Technology, Innovation and Knowledge that there has been a boom in worker co-operatives. In 1990 there were just 30, now there are 10,000. Social co-operatives account for the largest proportion, followed by young professionals (mostly in technology, communications and consulting services).

The growth is due to public policy; government contracts have advantaged social and construction sector co-operatives. A percentage of co-operatives’ tax also goes into a fund to support co-operative development.

mondragonWe also heard the Mondragon Corporation story – a federation of worker co-operatives based in the Basque region of Spain. It is the tenth largest Spanish company, employing 74,000 people in 257 companies and organisations spanning finance, industry, retail and knowledge. Mikel Lezamiz described the ‘four-legged support stool’ that supports growth: education, finance, social assistance and innovation. A virtuous circle.

France’s worker co-operative membership association, Les Scop, described how they are promoting the model as a solution to ownership succession. From a negligible number 10 years ago, a growing proportion (currently 15%) of their 2,200 members have chosen the worker co-operative model for succession reasons.

lesscopThis percentage is expected to double in coming years. I was interested to see Les Scop’s TV advert, which forms part of a campaign targeting 55+ year old owners – perhaps an approach that we might pursue in Scotland? Les Scop has also introduced training, on the back of the new law in France that requires all companies to provide training to employees.

image2For anyone interested in worker co-operatives a visit to La Barberie microbrewery is a must! On arriving, I was delighted to see Scotch Ale at the top of the menu – although on this visit Pumpkin Beer was the order of the day.

Established in 1997, this worker co-operative has 25 employees, of which 15 are members. It is one of four microbreweries co-operatives in Quebec province that worked together to produce the ‘Rochdale Beer’ which was launched at the Summit. Thanks to Jessica Provencher for hosting our visit.

Read part three of Sarah Deas’ account of her visit to Quebec.

A golden visit – part one

Sarah Deas resizedFrom October 6 to 9, Quebec in Canada hosted the second edition of the International Summit of Cooperatives, with the main theme being the power of innovation.

Here, in the first of three blogs, CDS chief executive Sarah Deas looks back at her trip to North America and reveals some of her key learnings.

October is a wonderful time to visit Quebec … maple trees adorned with golden leaves and pumpkins piled high awaiting Thanksgiving celebrations.

So, I was delighted when I was invited to facilitate a forum at the global International Summit of Cooperatives. This was a huge event attracting over 3,000 delegates from 93 nations. Keynote speakers included Nobel Prize economist Professor Robert Shiller and author of The Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson.

Autumn in Quebec

Autumn in Quebec

Throughout the summit, speakers acknowledged the contemporary nature of co-operative models; identifying their relevance and potential for the future. Balanced against this, there was a strong call for promotion of the social values that make the models unique.

As one speaker said “Co-operatives have the DNA – the humanist values – you need to promote these since conventional businesses are now doing so and capturing your ground”.

Canada has a strong co-operative sector. The Canadian Parliament’s ‘Special Committee on Cooperatives’ reported that there are 8,500 co-operatives employing 15,000 people with assets of $330bn.

Quebec accounts for almost 40% of Canadian co-operatives and 50% of associated jobs. The provincial government aims to expand their economic contribution by enhancing the legal framework, availability of finance, advisory services and promotion.

quebec

I attended a really interesting workshop organised by Reseau and the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation, in collaboration with CICOPA. Prominent themes included the difficultly young professionals face in finding work and the increasing number that are deciding to set up their own shared venture (co-operative). Also, recognition that owners are getting older and succession is becoming an issue.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that so many countries are taking a similar approach to Scotland in promoting employee/worker ownership as a solution. A big thank you to Hazel Corcoran for making me so welcome (and helping with translation!)

POSTSCRIPT: So sad that within a fortnight of my visit the openness and hospitality of the Canadians had been assaulted by violence in Montreal and Ottawa. My thoughts are with all those affected. 

Read part two and three of Sarah Deas’ account of her visit to Quebec

 

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