Co-operative Futures is a business development consultancy specialising in co-operative, mutual and community led businesses.

Whether you are starting out with an idea, looking to grow and develop your business or want to know about more about community ownership and co-operative business models we can help you.

Working with start-ups and existing companies we advise a variety of enterprises in a wide range of sectors including retail, leisure, community asset transfer, renewable energy, care and many more.

There are many names bandied around for the types of organisation we work with but it boils down to three things: that there is trading activity, they have a social purpose and there is some form of collective ownership. If you think that might be you please get in touch.


Co-operative Futures is an approved provider for the following schemes. For more information, please contact us.

ERDF + UIA USE-IT!

USE IT! is an exciting and innovative 3 year programme, launched in early 2017, to create a new ‘place-based’ network of social enterprises and community businesses who use local assets to tackle poverty and social isolation in their local neighbourhoods across West Birmingham and Sandwell. For more information about how we can support community businesses contact us

The Going the Extra Mile (GEM) Project aims to engage with and support individuals in Gloucestershire who are currently dealing with circumstances that are potentially causing barriers to work and move these people closer towards education, training, volunteering or work, including self-employment. MORE–>

Midcounties-sq

Midcounties Co-operative provides support to co-operatives and community groups in their trading area.

Community shares can save local shops and pubs, finance renewable energy schemes, transform community facilities, support local food growing, fund new football clubs, restore heritage buildings, and above all, build stronger, more vibrant, and independent communities.

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The Hive, a business support programme for co-ops and community businesses. The Hive offers online support, group advice, skills training sessions, one-to-one advice, peer mentoring.

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What we do

Starting up

Starting up

Looking at your business model, the viability of the business and what you need to get going.

Governance

Governance

How to make sure your legal structure is the right one and making sure you are doing the right things for your members.

Community shares

Community shares

Support to write a share offer document that will enable you to raise capital investment from your community or members.

Finance

Finance

Looking at how much it costs to run your business, what you should charge to make the right amount of profit and how to understand your accounts.

Marketing

Marketing

Identifying who your customers are, what they want to buy, how much they will pay and how to tell them about yourselves.

Business Plans

Business Plans

We help to write one that covers all the important areas. It can be one that is just for use internally or one that is needed to raise finance.

Blog Posts

Social Enterprise and You

Social Enterprise is a broad term that encompasses many different types of enterprises, which exist to change the world for the better, by tackling social issues, helping communities to thrive, helping individuals to better their lives, and helping the environment. Social enterprises are not charities – they trade like a normal business would and generate a profit – but they do business and use these profits in a way that benefits others.

There are many examples of well known social enterprises, and it’s likely you’ve encountered a fair few! One of the most well known is the Co-op Group – including the Co-op supermarkets, funeral care, Co-operative Travel, etc – as well as many others you may know, including the Big Issue, Divine Chocolate, and the Eden Project.

Social enterprise is an umbrella term for many different types of organisations, including:

  • Co-operatives: owned, controlled, and run for the benefit of members.
  • Community businesses: serve a geographical community or community of interest, with representatives of the community on their board
  • Credit Unions: community based financial institutions providing saving and loan facilities to members
  • Development Trusts: community enterprises which aim to develop communities, usually through ownership and management of property
  • Trading arms of charities: trade to raise money for their charities
  • Fair Trade organisations: committed to ensuring that producers are paid a fair price

As well as others. There are a range of different legal structures that each of these can adopt – including community benefit societies and community interest companies – which can affect the way the enterprise is governed and trades.

There are a huge variety of social enterprises, trading in all different areas – including renewable energy, farming and agriculture, retail businesses, housing, among others. These enterprises can provide employment and income to people who have previously been unable to find employment, as well as offering volunteering opportunities. Some social enterprises are also created in response to a need – for example, a need for, or a need to save a local asset (e.g., a park, building, facility). Community pubs are a good example of these, where people have come together to save their local pubs.

Setting up any type of business can seem hugely daunting, but there is a wealth of advice and support available to people looking to develop a social enterprise, as well as networks of social enterprises that can offer help and experience. If you want to get involved in social enterprise but do not want to set your own up, there are many opportunities to volunteer within social enterprises.

If you would like to learn more about social enterprises, Social Enterprise UK is a great resource, and can help you to access the help and support you need to start your own social enterprise – whether you are just at the ideas stage, or if you have a plan. They have a range of publications, including the “start your social enterprise” guide, which you can find here.

Here at Co-operative Futures, we offer support and guidance to social enterprises. More information, and our contact details, can be found on our website.

Community Business Weekend 2018

Community business weekend is a weekend-long celebration of all things community business, organised by Power to Change, an organisation which offers advice and support to community businesses.

England is home to over 7,000 community businesses, including shops, farms, pubs, and many more, and these have a combined market income of over £1.2 billion. These community businesses employ more than 35,000 people in total, and are helped by around 120,000 volunteers.

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About

Founded in 2000 Co-operative Futures was set up to provide direct advice and support services to co-operative and community owned enterprises and to engage in debates to find mutual solutions for challenges being faced by communities.

We are part of a workers co-op – The People Co-op, a network of ethical, sustainable businesses here in the UK with a focus on the business to business service companies.

Our head office is at: City Works, Alfred Street, Gloucester. GL1 4DF

You can call us on: 01452 543030

Find us on Facebook HERE

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