What is a co-operative?

A co-operative is any group of people whose organisation is owned and controlled by the people in it, run democratically and set up to meet their shared economic, social and/or cultural needs and aspirations.

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What’s a community business?

Community Businesses can come in many shapes and sizes. Their defining feature is that they are set up and run by people within the community with the purpose of supporting or helping that community in some way. This is usually thought
of as a geographical community but could also apply to a group of people with shared interests or goals.

What’s the difference between a co-op and a social enterprise?

A co-operative is typically defined as a business organisation that is democratically controlled and owned by its members and which works in the interest of its members.

A social enterprise is generally defined as a business organisation with a social mission, working in the interest of its community or client group.

A co-operative must always be democratic and benefit all its members; while a social enterprise can be hierarchical but must benefit a specified community of interest.

They can be very different kinds of organisation. The two are not mutually exclusive.

What’s the difference between a co-op and a community business?

Some co-operatives are set up specifically to benefit their members, whereas community businesses are set up to benefit anyone in the community, whether they are part of the community business or not.

Can a ‘normal’ business become a co-op?

Yes! Depending on what kind of business type you are it can be very straightforward.

There are two key aspects to think about if you’re considering converting to a co-op: changing the legal form your business takes; and making the cultural shift to more democratic working practices – the magic fairy dust that makes
co-operatives famously resilient and great to work in.