Co-op Fortnight 2021

Every year hundreds of co-ops and organisations across the UK work together to promote co-ops during Co-op Fortnight.

This year, 21 June to 4 July, 2021 we are celebrating the benefits and diversity of co-op membership; joining a co-op is a proactive way that we can help to build back better.

From the outside a co-op may look like any other business – it’s what happens inside that makes them different. All co-ops are based on the same principles and they share a set of values.

We’ve taken a look at some of the Co-ops across the Black Country to share some of the good work they are doing within their local communities.

Revolver, based in the Black Country, is one of Europe’s most ethical coffee brands, sourcing award-winning coffee and tea, grown ethically and organically by cooperative farmers from around the world. When developing their products, they strive to create environmentally friendly, ethical and great tasting alternatives to compete with traditional brands, picking up Great Taste Awards six years running!

As a multi-stakeholder cooperative, they are owned by their members rather than shareholders. This includes the farmers, consumers and everyone in between.

Paul Birch, CEO of Revolver Cooperative, said,

Not many people are aware of cooperatives or what they do, when actually we are surrounded by cooperatives everywhere we go. We are a multi-stakeholder cooperative meaning that we are owned by our members, with many of them being farming cooperatives themselves. This means that communities have a part to play in our decision-making process, we are held to account, and that we adopt strategies that take into account multiple different views including producer communities.

For more information on the Revolver co- operative visit www.revolverworld.com

Penny Post Credit Union, based in the Black Country, is a financial co-operative which provides savings, loans and financial services to its members. From small beginnings, it has grown substantially to become one of the largest and most financially successful credit unions in the UK with over 11,000 members and over £30 million in assets.

Penny Post is owned by and run for the benefit of its ‘members’ who are also its ‘shareholders’.

Penny Post CEO, Matt Goulding, said

Like all cooperatives, ‘members helping members’ is at the heart of everything we do and never more so than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The past year has been difficult for everyone, but we were able to offer emergency loans and payment holidays to support those members who were struggling. Being able to help our members when times are hard is something that we are extremely proud of.

For more information on Penny Post Credit Union co-operative, visit: www.pennypostcu.com or www.penny-post.co.uk/penny-post-25th-anniversary

BCRS Business Loans, based in the Black Country is a Community Benefit Society that was established in 2002 to support businesses across the West Midlands region that are unable to access finance from traditional lenders, such as banks.

As a co-operative business, BCRS is owned by its members, who meet on a yearly basis at an Annual General Meeting. With no shareholders to support, BCRS is able to focus on the social and economic impact its lending will generate, rather than profit. BCRS is also a Community Benefit Society. This means it conducts business for the benefit of the wider community with profits being reinvested back into the business, rather than being distributed to shareholders. In this case, its ‘community’ consists of West Midlands based businesses and the regional economy.

The chief executive of BCRS Business Loans, Stephen Deakin, said:

We understand that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and a force for social good, which we are committed to doing all we can as a co-operative lender to support their growth and prosperity when traditional lenders can’t. To date we are proud to have lent over £72 million to 1,700 SMEs across the West Midlands, which has subsequently protected 8,500 existing jobs, helped to create an extra 4,600 new jobs and generated an additional £371.7 million in value to the West Midlands economy.

To discover more about BCRS Business Loans, please visit www.bcrs.org.uk.

For more details on how to start a co-op or how to join a co-op, Co-op Fortnight might give you some inspiration. Visit: www.uk.coop/get-involved/awareness-campaigns/co-op-fortnight/get-involved-co-op-fortnight