Launched as a pilot scheme in Manchester last year, the Enterprise Hub is part of The Co-operative Group’s support for new and existing co-operative businesses.
As the focus of the UK economy moves from recession to recovery, co-operatives are being identified as an alternative, fair and sustainable approach to business. Consumers, commentators and politicians alike are debating the co-operative business model and considering it ‘fashionable’, ‘in-vogue’ and, even ‘cool’, to co-operate.
Peter Marks, group chief executive of The Co-operative Group, said: “The Co-operative business model has an exciting future in fostering business enterprise. It is no co-incidence that it is increasingly being championed as a long-term solution to many of the challenges facing the UK.
“More than 11 million members belong to some 5,000 co-operatives in the UK. And, with a combined turnover exceeding £29 billion, it represents a significant contribution to society and the economy.
“With the recent financial crisis highlighting deep flaws in economic and business practices, people are opening their eyes to the co-operative model and seeing its merits as a modern, effective and relevant way of doing business.
“We welcome the debate about the part co-operatives can play in developing a more balanced UK economy.
“That is why we have put our money where our mouth is and demonstrated our commitment to the sector with this £5 million, three year investment programme.”
The Hub operates via a central website with a network of development professionals in regional ‘hubs’ delivering the service.
During 2010, this dedicated support service for co-operative enterprises will continue to rollout across the regions, sharing the same footprint as Regional Development Agencies (RDA).