From pubs and farms to launderettes and lidos, communities are creating democratically controlled, viable, and sustainable businesses. According to Power To Change, there are 7,800 community enterprises in England alone, and the Community Shares Unit reports over 500 businesses established using community shares in the last 10 years. As public funding recedes and the charity sector shrinks, community enterprises provide a creative way to address local needs, with democratic control by the community at the heart of what they do.
Drawing on past successes and good practice, this practical workshop takes a look at how groups can be successful in developing their own community enterprise, introducing critical success factors, top tips, and useful approaches.
Mark Simmonds is the co-founder of Co-op Culture and Platform 6 Development Co-operative, through which he helps deliver business support to co-operatives across the UK. He is based in Calderdale, West Yorkshire where he is also a founder member of Pennine Community Power, the Fox and Goose Co-operative Pub and Heptonstall Allotment & Garden Society. Mark is a licensed community shares practitioner and is also the author of several start-up guides, including Co-operatives UK’s Simply Start-Up guide.
Nathan Brown is a Member of Co-op Culture, delivering support to co-operatives across the UK. He is also a Member of Cooperantics and a support provider for the Plunkett Foundation, for whom he has also written guides for the community pubs network. He has been delivering support and training to co-operatives and community businesses for over 20 years. Nathan is a Licensed Community Shares Practitioner and has supported communities purchasing or managing pubs, woodlands and community garden centres.
Based in Southampton, Nathan is also a member of October Books, a community bookshop who managed to raise over half a million pounds to purchase and refurbish a former bank building on a local high street.