Tuesday 22 March 2011

The Co-operative in the community

In 1844 a group got together in Yorkshire and formed the Rochdale Pioneers and established the first successful co-operative. This movement has gone from strength to strength and in the 21st century now has 6 million members and a total of 5,000 outlets. These are no longer just for food retail but also financial services, pharmacies, funeral services and travel agents. 

The movement is so successful that every year The Co-operative supports thousands of initiatives across the United Kingdom and further afield. This has been hi-lighted by an advertising campaign this month emphasising both the long heritage and  the current impact the Co-operative is having on local revolutions. It is actually an advert that I can remember seeing myself in the last few days.

Are you aware of any projects near to you that have benefited from the revolution? Maybe your project could do with some help? Join the revolution.

In Cumbria one project that has benefited is the  UK’s first community owned wind farm, Baywind Energy Co-operative was established in 1996. The project has always favoured local investors, that way the economic benefits of the wind farm are kept within the community it serves.

In 1998 Baywind secured a loan from The Co-operative Bank to purchase two turbines for their Harlock Hill site. It has also received several grants from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub to develop new, co-operatively owned wind farms across the UK.

Baywind now typically generates around 10,000MWh of electricity each year – enough to power around 30,000 homes. And along with educational visits throughout the year, it funds environmental books for local schools. 


Through their Enterprise Hub, the Co-operative actively promotes the development of co-operative businesses around the globe. They invest £7 million a year in some of the world’s poorest countries to support initiatives that will benefit farmers, their families and the entire community.


In Kenya, for example, they have worked with The Co-operative College and The Co-operative Food, to help over 10,000 smallholder tea farmers to organise into co-operatives.


This has increased their negotiating power and provided access to markets previously closed to them. It has also helped them to achieve Fairtrade certification, so they can supply tea for our ‘99’ Fairtrade tea blend. All of which means they will now get a fair return for their crop.

the Co-op's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheCooperative?v=info

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