Co-operatives are established for the benefit of their members, whether they are consumers, employees, tenants, or users of mutual support services.
But life is not always that simple. Members may benefit in different ways. If you gloss over different interests – the interests of different ‘stakeholders’ – you may be storing up potential problems for the future.
Multi-stakeholder co-operatives enable the enterprise to be 'shared' by more than one group of stakeholders – for example, a community supported agriculture scheme could be 50% controlled by producers, and 50% by consumers. Or a community business could be 60% controlled by its workers, and 40% by the local community.
So the multi-stakeholder co-operative model offers a means to explicitly address the interests of all stakeholders so different groups can have a balanced voice in the business. You can ensure a membership role for investors whilst maintaining user control. Investors can be user members of the co-operative,or non-users with only enough power to protect their investment – or a mixture of the two.
— The multistakeholder model.
— Stakeholder mapping.
— Maintaining member engagement.
— Relevant case studies.
— A good understanding of what a multi-stakeholder co-operative is, the advantages offered by this model and some of the complexity.
— Awareness of some examples of multi-stakeholder co-ops, their successes and complexities.
— Practical experience of thinking about the design of a multi-stakeholder co-operative.
— Organisations exploring how to incorporate different stakeholder groups.
— Societies interested in raising community share capital.
— Employers and employees interested in business conversions.
Kate Whittle is an experienced trainer and facilitator who has worked in and with co-operatives of all kinds – both in the UK and overseas – for nearly 30 years. She is also a partner in Cooperantics LLP and secretary of Go-op Co-operative, a multi-stakeholder co-operative which aims to be the first co-operative open access rail service in the UK.
*The low-income price is for the unemployed, students, volunteers, and part-time employees.