The Co-operative Group officially launched its multi-million pound programme in Cardiff following a successful pilot-scheme last year.
Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative Group’s head of community and campaigns, said: “Co-operatives provide a fair and sustainable way to do business. The financial crisis exposed deep flaws in economic and business practices and people have awoken to the co-operative model and its merits as a modern, effective and relevant way of doing business. Co-operatives could go a long way to rebuilding public trust and help create a more balanced economy.
“Highly successful co-operative businesses operate across every sector of our economy and in practically every country across the world and yet here, in the UK, they are still viewed as being outside of the business mainstream.
“The co-operative economy is vibrant and makes an invaluable contribution to our society, environment and to the wider economy. We, together with policy makers, have a responsibility to spread the message about co-operatives and help them realise their potential.
“By pledging almost £5 million over the next three years we are putting our money where our mouth is. The Co-operative Enterprise Hubs will operate across the UK, demonstrating our commitment to the sector and helping address the challenges facing UK businesses and the economy.
“A significant proportion of our investment will be used to offer advice and training services to new and existing co-operative enterprises including, up to four days free business advice.
“Having delivered the service, the co-operative development advisors can then sign-post clients to further support, and finance packages available through the enterprise hub. Through the creation and growth of sustainable co-operative enterprises, we will energise and build a thriving co-operative sector.”