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Co-operative development

Seeds for Growth provides advice, support and training for groups of people who would like to launch their own worker co-operative. Co-operatives are registered businesses that can trade in any enterprise sector (retail, food, services, etc) and are led by all the employees. In smaller co-operatives often all the employees are on the management committee, whereas in larger ones there will be elections to sit on the governing board.

In partnership with Tower Hamlets Co-operative Development agency, Seeds for Growth accessed grant funds from the Co-operative Group to promote the development of new worker co-operatives in London. We employed 18 co-operative development advisers who supported the establishment of 145 new worker co-ops across London from 2010-2012.


We have extensive experience of supporting people to establish worker co-ops.

What is a Co-operative

Co-operatives are businesses owned and run by their members. Whether the members are customers, employees or residents they have an equal say in what the business does and a share in the profits.

As well as benefiting their members, co-operatives share internationally agreed principles and act together to build a better world through co-operation.

Co-operatives are a flexible business model. They can be set up in different ways, using different legal structures, depending on what works for the members. The key is that they are owned and run by the members, the people who benefit from the co-operative’s services. As businesses owned and run by their members, co-operatives give members an equal say and a share of the profits.


  • Sharing profits: Co-operatives are businesses that share their profits amongst their members – everyday people, not external shareholders. Eight out of ten people in the UK think co-operatives are fair; only two out of ten think the same of conventional companies.

  • Serving members: Because co-operatives do not need to bring benefits to outside shareholders or investors, co-operatives can focus on making sure their members get the best service. And because co-operatives are run by and for their members, all members have an equal say.

  • Widening ownership: As businesses owned by customers, employees and residents, co-operatives share wealth and ownership, rather than concentrate it in the hands of a few. With the gap between rich and poor at its highest since records began, the co-operative approach has never been needed more.

  • Building communities: Co-operatives allow people to do things together they could not achieve alone. By enabling members to meet and share ideas, activities, skills, costs and resources, co-operatives build a sense of shared community.

  • Co-operatives share their profits.

  • Co-operatives are owned by their members.

  • Co-operatives narrow the gap between rich and poor.

  • There are 5,500+ co-operatives in the UK.

  • Co-operatives work in all parts of the economy.

  • 14 million people in the UK are members of a co-operative.

  • Co-operatives contribute £350 billion+ to the UK economy.

  • There are 1 billion members of co-operatives worldwide.

  • Co-operatives produce 75% of Fairtrade goods.

  • Co-operatives outperform the UK economy.

  • Co-operatives employ 250,000+ people in the UK.

  • Eight out of ten people think co-operatives are fair.

  • People are happier when co-operating.


Together, let’s create more co-operatives.

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