23 December 2008

New miniweb - Business Opportunities

We have reorganised and added pages to create a miniweb focused on business opportunities. This site covers topics such as contracts, finance, networking & business refferals.

Have a look; this miniweb is just a start and we will be developing a more user interactive site in the future. If there is anything you can contribute, or suggest please contact us.


Greater Manchester co-operative exchange

An event exploring the challenges of the credit crunch and opportunities for connecting with local economies. For Co-operatives in the North West.

Host: Co-ops NW
Date: 16 January 2009
Time: 12:30 - 16:30
Location: Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street City Centre Manchester M2 5NS

Keynote speakers including:
> Michael Fairclough, Head of Community and Campaigns, The Co-operative Group
> Lucy Powell, Innovation Programme, NESTA

Plus: practical workshops on doing business in challenging economic times. Lunch and networking opportunities throughout the day.


22 December 2008

Promoting Worker Co-operatives

As part of our ongoing work to promote worker co-operatives. I am looking at the political angle and would like your input. If you are in a worker co-operative please fill in this quick survey (5 questions). It will help me to map political engagement and improve my ability to locally target the promotion of worker co-operatives to elected representatives.

Although we do a lot of work at a national level; it is useful to get the participation of co-operatives at a local area. You may be contacted in the future depending on your response.

Click Here to take survey

Zed Books wins the Pandora Award for 2008

Zed Books are proud to announce that they are the recipient of 2008’s Women in Publishing Pandora Award!

The Pandora Award has been presented since 1981 to an individual or organization for promoting positive images of women in publishing, book selling and related trades. Since 1982 onwards the prize, appropriately enough, has been a writing box which is passed on from one winner to the next.

Zed Books is a cooperatively owned and democratically managed publisher on issues of international politics.

"We are positive about our unusual management structure and the way it frees us to publish books that we believe to be politically important to a market that other publishers might not necessarily have the confidence to approach."

For over 30 years Zed has published books calling attention to the problems faced by women around the world marginalized by mainstream politics, and celebrating the resourcefulness with which women have organized themselves to achieve change.

"We are proud of our ability to find the market for these books, and our commitment to publishing books that are open-minded, politically progressive and dedicated to furthering the cause of feminist scholarship."

Winners in past years have been women who have made important literature and studies more widely available, taken leading roles in publishing in countries where that is difficult for women, or set up apprenticeships for women wanting to get into publishing. They have put their issues onto the mainstream agenda and the publishing industry has benefited from re-assessing its output and reflecting the lives and perspectives of today’s society.

For further information, on Zed Books please contact Ruvani de Silva on 020 7837 8466 or email ruvani.de_silva@zedbooks.net

10 December 2008

Research on worker co-operatives

I've just read a research paper by Rory Ridley-Duff, revisiting some previous research into worker co-operatives. Looking at "the impact of asset-locks on the longevity, growth and management styles in co-operative social enterprise."
Linked here.

Particularly interesting were two diagrams on co-operative governance structures: A representative structure; and a team/sector & hub structure.

The main points raised were:
  • The UK worker co-operative sector places a much stronger emphasis on common ownership than on the Continent.
  • Devolution of management responsibilities was more prevalent in individual and collective ownership, as opposed to common ownership co-operatives.
  • Access to external finance was less problematic for organisation where individual members had made investments.
  • Staff controlled organisations with a combination of individual/collective ownership grew faster than those based on common ownership principles.
In my opinion the survey size is too small, to draw many conclusion. I would be interested in research that could cover a lot more worker co-operatives. This might be something we can facilitate in the future.

It did however raise some interesting questions in my mind about the priorities and motivation in worker co-operatives, especially common ownership ones. If they are not investor led, would they priorities growth, (increase in the number of employees) over creating stable and well paid employment for their existing members?

If anyone knows of interesting areas of research into worker co-operatives, especially looking at their motivations and priorities and non-growth measures of success please send me info.

Supermarkets? No, thanks

The Guardian have done an article on local food. I was quoted for Co-operatives UK and they have highlighted a number of co-operatives inclucing Unicorn Grocery, Just Trade and True Food Co-op. Check it out here.

"Equal pay, equal say," is the slogan of this worker's co-op in south Manchester. It's your dream whole-foods shop: brightly lit, well-stocked; run by motivated, happy staff.

09 December 2008

Future Co-operatives 2009

Future Co-operatives event will be held between Friday 30th January to Sunday 1st February, in Swindon. The event will be looking at Co-operative identity, designed to inspire and invigorate those with a co-operative passion.

This event is funded by the Co-operative Fund and delegate fees have been subsidised for Small and Mediums Co-operatives so they are will be affordable . To book your place email info@co-operativefutures.coop or call 0845 456 2506.

The Employee Co-operative Council will have their quarterly meeting on the Friday morning and a Worker Co-operative Open Forum will take place in the afternoon as one of the first activities of the event. This will be a great opportunity to network with other co-operatives, share business contacts and discuss priorities worker co-operative priorities for Co-operativesUK.

The event will have 3 debates and a session on the Co-operative Fund.

Debate 1: The Co-operative Movement: Private or Third Sector?
Debate 2: A Co-operatives Act vs. A Co-operatives Standard?
Debate 3: A Co-operative Quality Marque?

02 December 2008

Atomised: a new ethical, green web design co-operative in Scotland

A new ethical web design & development company has been launched with the help of Co-operativesUK. Atomised Co-operative Ltd is a workers' co-operative founded by three web developers (Alasdair Macmillan, Neil Albrock & Morgan Faichney) who previously worked together at The University of St Andrews.

Atomised offer web design & development to co-operative, charitable, voluntary, public and social enterprise sectorsʼ and have already completed a new site for agricultural co-operative East of Scotland Growers Ltd.

The three founders are only in their early thirties but have clocked up a combined 20 years of experience working for some of the biggest players on the web including the U.K Government, BT, Standard Life, The University of St. Andrews & Aberdeen Asset Management.

While working together at the University of St. Andrews, mainly on database-driven web projects for the U.K Government, Alasdair, Neil & Morgan began sketching out the possibility of striking out on their own and starting a different sort of web design agency: one that was ethical, environmental and enterprising.

As co-founder Alasdair Macmillan says “Ethically we always knew we wanted to incorporate as a workerʼs co-operative. Neil worked for Scotmid Co-op for years while I worked for an Edinburgh based charity and we saw the benefits both for us as members but also for the client. My experience of many web design companies are that they are often marketing companies that subcontract designers. You often donʼt get good service and many times you have to deal with ʻmiddle menʼ, not the designers and developers themselves . We know already that our clients love the personal direct line they have to Neil, Morgan & AL the team that builds their sites and are on the end of a phone.”

“We also knew we wanted Atomised to be environmentally sound - so for example, in Atomised we work remotely from our 3 home offices and use video conferencing whereas previously we each had 80 mile a day roundtrip commutes to the office. And later this year we will be offering web hosting on our new server which is powered entirely by wind power generated electricity something we believe there is a desire for. Data centres are responsible for almost three per cent of electricity use in the UK and this is expected to double by 2020. Our aim is to be offering carbon-free wind-powered website hosting to our customers by early 2009.”

“But we also want to be enterprising and on the cutting edge. Really what drives us is wanting to make available to organisations in the co-operative, educational, charitable, voluntary, public and social enterprise sectors access to the same cutting edge web technology as the largest companies have at an affordable cost. For example, we are currently working on an iphone web application for an ethical company in Manchester that we are incredibly excited about. We are building mobile web capabilities alongside their new regular site. Something we are getting asked more and more for.”

Atomised have offices near Edinburgh & Glasgow. They are available for work U.K-wide and can be reached on +44 (0) 7866218073, on the web at www.atomised.coop