The Co-operative News Review of 2018

The Co-operative News Review of 2018


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The Review <strong>2018</strong><br />

The Co-operative News<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 1

2 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Contents<br />

Message from the Chair & Executive Editor<br />

Time-line<br />

Most popular stories of <strong>2018</strong><br />

Anniversaries<br />

Obituaries<br />

Q&A – Ed Mayo<br />

Q&A – Ariel Guarco<br />

Sectors<br />

Technology: Polly Robbins<br />

Healthcare: Carlos Zarco<br />

Legal: David Alcock<br />

Politics: Claire McCarthy<br />

Channel Islands: Colin Macleod<br />

Agriculture: Umberto Di Pasquo<br />

Education: Simon Parkinson<br />

Credit Unions: Matt Bland<br />

Worker Co-op: Siôn Whellens<br />

Energy: Mark Luntley & John Malone<br />

Regions<br />

Singapore: Dolly Goh<br />

Wales: Derek Walker<br />

Northern Ireland: Tiziana O’Hara<br />

Africa: Dr Chiyoge Sifa<br />

Australia: Melina Morrison<br />

4 – 5<br />

6 – 8<br />

9 – 11<br />

12<br />

13<br />

14 – 15<br />

16 – 17<br />

18 – 27<br />

18<br />

19<br />

20<br />

21<br />

22<br />

23<br />

24<br />

25<br />

26<br />

27<br />

28 – 30<br />

28<br />

29<br />

30<br />

31<br />

31<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 3

A message from the Chair,<br />

Elaine Dean<br />

I believe the UK is facing the biggest political crisis<br />

of my lifetime. Whatever your personal beliefs and<br />

opinions on the matter or your preferred outcome,<br />

Brexit has caused uncertainty and infighting at<br />

a time the country can ill afford it.<br />

One thing that it has brought to light, however, is that<br />

co-operatives can provide an oasis of calm in this storm.<br />

Not only through the work that they do for members,<br />

colleagues, and customers, but also in their very approach<br />

to this work. We are stronger together – and together,<br />

we need to remember that.<br />

This philosophy doesn’t just apply to retailers,<br />

housing co-ops, credit unions or worker co-operatives,<br />

either. Core support agencies – such as your Co-op<br />

News, sector body Co-operatives UK and educational<br />

charity the Co-operative College – have a duty of care<br />

and responsibility to work together for the good of<br />

the wider movement.<br />

Over the last few months Co-op News, Co-operatives<br />

UK and the College have been working jointly to develop<br />

a New Force for Co-operation – a plan of action to make<br />

sure the different pieces of work each organisation does<br />

is as efficient and effective for the wider movement<br />

as possible.<br />

What does the co-operative movement actually want<br />

and need from its support organisations? How can we<br />

fulfil those needs to the best of our abilities, making<br />

the most of our mutual skills, experience and networks?<br />

How can we work better together to make this happen?<br />

Feeding into this and informed by the ongoing New<br />

Force work is our own strategy for the future of<br />

Co-operative Press – the co-operative which publishes<br />

Co-op News. In 2014 we developed a 3-5 year strategy,<br />

prompted by significant changes in the movement;<br />

we are now reviewing that strategy in light of further<br />

changes and renewed expectations of what a modern,<br />

thriving Co-operative Press should look like. How can<br />

we best serve the 21st century co-op movement?<br />

This strategy will explore digital solutions that<br />

are immediate, accessible, personal and sustainable<br />

(from both a financial and environmental perspective).<br />

It will also look at the relationship we have with<br />

our members, providing insight through engaging<br />

our readers in dialogue, building knowledge<br />

and understanding.<br />

<strong>2018</strong> has seen significant changes at Co-op News<br />

– not least a change in executive editor following<br />

the departure of Anthony Murray in the spring,<br />

and the appointment of his successor, Rebecca Harvey.<br />

But as we approach 2021 and our 150th anniversary,<br />

we can look forward with confidence and clarity to<br />

the next 150, and the challenges it will bring long after<br />

Brexit has been and gone.<br />

4 Review <strong>2018</strong>

& the Executive Editor,<br />

Rebecca Harvey<br />

The co-op movement is a strange and wonderful beast,<br />

populated by people doing some quite incredible things.<br />

On 21 December 1844 – nearly 175 years ago – the Rochdale<br />

Pioneers set out to change the status quo by opening the<br />

doors to their co-operative store at 31 Toad Lane; today<br />

that pioneering spirit is still demonstrated in every sector<br />

and on every continent, driven by people doing things to<br />

make a difference.<br />

<strong>2018</strong> has been a year of huge change at Co-op News,<br />

as the organisation settles into new leadership and we,<br />

as a team, strive to work more effectively and efficiently<br />

with other co-operative support agencies. But one thing<br />

that hasn’t changed is our commitment to connect,<br />

champion and challenge the co-ops that make up our<br />

movement around the world.<br />

This includes the people behind them, too. So in<br />

this review of <strong>2018</strong>, we hand a lot of the pages over the<br />

individuals working at the sharp end of co-operation.<br />

The people working in co-operative education and<br />

lobbying, in retail and politics – and in co-operative<br />

communities that are separated by large distances,<br />

but certainly not by their values or principles.<br />

Over the last 12 months our journalists and analysts<br />

have been giving voice to co-op stories around the world<br />

– enabling mutual learning through the sharing of ideas,<br />

information and best practice. Our networks of experts<br />

have been working together to create content that is<br />

relevant to our readers and members, feeding into a<br />

forum of ideas to help grow the co-operative sector<br />

around the world.<br />

We’ll continue to do this in 2019, while we’ll also be<br />

helping the Co-operative College celebrate its centenary.<br />

The year after, in 2020, Co-operatives UK turns 150 and<br />

then in 2021 it is our own 150th anniversary. That will be<br />

a time of celebration as we look forward to the next 150<br />

years, and the huge potential of co-operatives to pioneer<br />

a new way forward.<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 5

<strong>2018</strong> Time-line<br />

JAN<br />

A report by the IPPR<br />

Commission on Economic<br />

Justice suggests expanding<br />

employee ownership trusts<br />

to create three million<br />

employee owners by 2030.<br />

The Co-op Group<br />

announces plans for 100<br />

new stores with a £160m<br />

investment, alongside<br />

a £50m put into price<br />

cuts for everyday food<br />

items, which the retailer<br />

said could save shoppers<br />

£120 a year, and a trial<br />

delivery service in Greater<br />

Manchester with Deliveroo.<br />

Bruno Roelants is<br />

appointed director<br />

general of the International<br />

Co-operative Alliance,<br />

following the retirement<br />

of his predecessor<br />

Charles Gould.<br />

FEB<br />

discussions of tech co-ops<br />

and public service mutuals,<br />

and a keynote speech from<br />

shadow business secretary<br />

Rebecca Long-Bailey.<br />

Rabobank National<br />

Association pays<br />

US$360m to settle a<br />

money laundering case.<br />

A subsidiary of the Dutch<br />

financial co-operative,<br />

it pleaded guilty after<br />

an investigation into its<br />

operations in California.<br />

MAR<br />

Student Co-op Homes,<br />

a national body to address<br />

problems in the housing<br />

sector, is launched. It<br />

aims to increase national<br />

capacity from 150 to 10,000<br />

beds in the next five years.<br />

continue, Labour and Co-op<br />

councils sign a charter<br />

committing them to rooting<br />

out exploitation in their<br />

supply chains, at a round<br />

table event with Labour<br />

leader Jeremy Corbyn.<br />

Japan’s co-ops reorganise<br />

into a new federal body,<br />

the Japan Co-operative<br />

Alliance (JCA).<br />

The Association of<br />

British Credit Unions<br />

(Abcul) AGM. Hot topics<br />

include digital marketing<br />

innovation and calls<br />

by Nick Crofts from the<br />

Co-op Group and Greater<br />

Manchester mayor Andy<br />

Burnham for credit unions<br />

to work with co-ops and<br />

local authorities to tackle<br />

economic inequality.<br />

AGM, chief executive Steve<br />

Murrells announces the<br />

“Stronger Co-op, Stronger<br />

Communities” campaign,<br />

which will see the retailer<br />

invest in local community<br />

projects.<br />

The year also sees positive<br />

results for independent<br />

retail co-ops, with Central<br />

England, Scotmid, Heart<br />

of England, Southern, East<br />

of England, Chelmsford Star<br />

and Midcounties among<br />

those reporting surpluses<br />

despite the challenging<br />

retail environment.<br />

The Phone Co-op agrees<br />

a transfer of engagements<br />

to Midcounties Co-op at its<br />

special meeting in Sheffield.<br />

Operations will continue<br />

from its existing office but<br />

the deal brings an end to<br />

the Phone Co-op as<br />

a distinct entity with<br />

a distinct board.<br />

The Phone Co-op holds<br />

its AGM, and finds its<br />

growth strategy – which<br />

involves major investments<br />

– subject to fierce debate.<br />

A special meeting is<br />

scheduled for April.<br />

The Ways Forward 6<br />

Conference is held in<br />

Manchester, with debate on<br />

how the co-op model can be<br />

used to transform the UK<br />

economy. Sessions include<br />

The government<br />

announces a £10m fund<br />

for new forms of farmer<br />

co-operation, as well as<br />

the development of existing<br />

farm co-operatives.<br />

Efforts by the movement to<br />

eradicate modern slavery<br />

APR<br />

The Co-op Group returns<br />

to the black in its annual<br />

results, with a pre-tax<br />

profit of £72m, up from<br />

a £132m loss the year<br />

before. At the Group’s<br />

Phil Ponsonby is named<br />

new group CEO of<br />

Midcounties after the<br />

retirement of Ben Reid<br />

6 Review <strong>2018</strong>

MAY<br />

At its annual conference,<br />

the Co-op College hosts<br />

discussions of issues<br />

around co-op training,<br />

plans for a co-operative<br />

university, and how to<br />

answer the challenges<br />

of the digital age. Keynote<br />

speakers include Ariel<br />

Guarco, president<br />

of the ICA.<br />

Mark Lyonette steps down<br />

as CEO of the Association<br />

of British Credit Unions<br />

(Abcul) to take up a role<br />

in the National Pharmacy<br />

Association (NPA).<br />

There are celebrations at the<br />

Co-operative Party as the<br />

local elections see a record<br />

number of Labour/Co-op<br />

candidates win seats.<br />

Dan Jarvis becomes the<br />

first mayor of the devolved<br />

Sheffield City Region.<br />

JUN<br />

Co-operatives Fortnight<br />

starts on 23 June, with the<br />

launch of the Economy<br />

Report highlighting the<br />

strength of the co-operative<br />

model, and co-ops<br />

encouraged to show how<br />

they make a difference.<br />

Cyprus Co-operative Bank,<br />

which was bailed out by its<br />

government in 2013 after<br />

running into trouble with<br />

bad loans, is sold to the<br />

Hellenic Bank.<br />

JUL<br />

A policy document<br />

from the New Economics<br />

Foundation, commissioned<br />

by the Co-op Party,<br />

is launched at Westminster.<br />

Welcomed by shadow<br />

chancellor John McDonnell,<br />

the report calls for a portion<br />

of large company profits<br />

to be transferred into a<br />

worker-owned trust,<br />

and formeasures to help<br />

businesses transition<br />

to employee-ownership<br />

as their existing<br />

owners retire.<br />

The Community Energy<br />

Conference <strong>2018</strong> in<br />

Manchester brings the<br />

sector together, with a call<br />

to lobby the government<br />

to produces a less hostile<br />

legislative and regulatory<br />

regime for community<br />

renewables.<br />

At Co-operative<br />

Congress in London,<br />

the Co-operatives of the<br />

Year awards go to London<br />

creative co-op The Service,<br />

the Foster Care Co-op,<br />

Midcounties Co-op and<br />

Cardiff Council.<br />

Platform co-ops are<br />

discussed at the<br />

Open <strong>2018</strong> Conference<br />

in London, organised by<br />

the Open Co-operative,<br />

with discussion of co-op<br />

cryptocurrencies and<br />

ways the movement can<br />

encourage grassroots rivals<br />

to online tech giants.<br />

A question mark hangs<br />

over the mutual status<br />

of fan-ownership<br />

organisation Supporters<br />

Direct after it agrees a<br />

merger with the Football<br />

Supporters Federation.<br />

A new council body will<br />

look at options for the new<br />

organisation in early 2019.<br />

AUG<br />

The government releases<br />

its Civil Society Strategy<br />

and a green paper on<br />

social housing, both<br />

of which focus on<br />

community empowerment.<br />

But the documents meet a<br />

mixed reception from the<br />

co-op movement.<br />

The UK Society for Co-op<br />

Studies holds its annual<br />

conference in Sheffield,<br />

reporting positive financial<br />

results and discussing<br />

issues such as the Worker<br />

Co-op Solidarity Fund<br />

and modern slavery.<br />

SEP<br />

The Co-op Group<br />

announces strong interim<br />

results and a return to the<br />

pharmacy sector, with the<br />

purchase of prescriptions<br />

app Dimec. It also beefs<br />

up its ethical policy with<br />

a crackdown on single use<br />

plastics – but also receives<br />

protests from shop workers<br />

over low staffing levels on<br />

evening shifts.<br />

As concern mounts over<br />

climate change, dairy<br />

co-op Arla agrees to<br />

give all of its <strong>2018</strong> profit<br />

to farmers affected by<br />

drought in the <strong>2018</strong><br />

heatwave – while in the US,<br />

electric co-ops scramble to<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 7

u help communities hit by<br />

Hurricane Florence.<br />

Another UK thinktank<br />

issues a report advocating<br />

co-operative policies.<br />

The Institute for Public<br />

Policy Research document<br />

calls for increased worker<br />

representation on company<br />

boards – and comes as the<br />

Labour Party unveils plans<br />

to require all companies<br />

with more than 250 workers<br />

to set up ownership funds.<br />

The Platform Co-op<br />

Conference in Hong Kong<br />

hears stories from tech<br />

co-ops around the<br />

world and calls for the<br />

development of a global<br />

commons, and co-op<br />

hardware to support it.<br />

OCT<br />

The Co-operative Councils<br />

Innovation Network<br />

meets in Croydon to<br />

discuss mutual models of<br />

service delivery and local<br />

democracy, and how these<br />

can be used to meet the<br />

challenges of austerity<br />

and Brexit, and move the<br />

UK towards a co-operative<br />

commonwealth. Similar<br />

ideas to reshape the<br />

economy are discussed<br />

at the Co-op Party<br />

Conference in Bristol and<br />

– at the end of September<br />

– the Social Business<br />

Wales <strong>2018</strong> conference.<br />

Social Saturday, on 13<br />

October, celebrates the<br />

work of social enterprise<br />

in the UK. In Manchester,<br />

actor and comedian Chris<br />

Addison joins the Co-op<br />

Group and Social Enterprise<br />

UK for a tour of social<br />

enterprises in the area.<br />

Lincolnshire Co-operative<br />

reports a 10% increase in<br />

trading surplus in its<br />

full-year results.<br />

On 18 October, the<br />

movement marks Anti<br />

-Slavery Day with more<br />

co-op councils signing up<br />

to the Co-op Party’s charter<br />

on modern slavery and the<br />

Co-op Group continuing<br />

its campaign with national<br />

press ads.<br />

The International<br />

Co-operative Alliance<br />

gathers in Buenos Aires<br />

for its General Assembly,<br />

announcing a US$250,000<br />

fund for young co-operators<br />

and releasing its annual<br />

World Co-operative Monitor,<br />

which reveals the world’s<br />

top 300 co-ops have<br />

a combined turnover<br />

of $2.01tn.<br />

The US co-op movement<br />

holds its annual Co-op<br />

IMPACT conference, as part<br />

of National Co-op Month,<br />

celebrating the role of the<br />

country’s 40,000 co-ops in<br />

creating stable jobs and a<br />

sustainable economy.<br />

NOV<br />

Central England Co-op<br />

appoints Debbie Robinson,<br />

managing director of Spar,<br />

as its new chief executive,<br />

following the retirement<br />

of Martyn Cheatle.<br />

Co-operatives UK hosts<br />

the Practitioners Forum<br />

in Manchester, where<br />

co-operative leaders<br />

discussed digital marketing,<br />

key performance indicators<br />

and youth engagement.<br />

DEC<br />

A deal is struck with<br />

the Internet Corporation<br />

for Assigned Names and<br />

Numbers to renew the<br />

.coop domain. The domain,<br />

an initiative of the National<br />

Cooperative Business<br />

Association and the<br />

International Co-operative<br />

Alliance, will remain the<br />

exclusive domain name<br />

for the movement for<br />

another 10 years.<br />

Suma Wholefoods Co-op<br />

launches new branding<br />

and logo by Pearlfisher<br />

to create a more coherent<br />

visual identity and<br />

emphasise its worker<br />

co-operative credentials.<br />

8 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Most popular stories of the year<br />

From energy drinks to robotic wolves, Co-op News<br />

readers enjoyed a lot of very different stories in <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

Several of the most popular focused on activities of<br />

the Co-op Group, but there were a lot of international<br />

stories which were popular, too. Fairtrade, and issues<br />

of climate change and inequality were some of the most<br />

read – while politics, credit unions and the gig economy<br />

also got a look in.<br />

CO-OP GROUP BANS SALE <strong>OF</strong> ENERGY<br />


The Co-op Group is to impose a voluntary ban on the<br />

sale of energy drinks to under-16s, amid health concerns.<br />

The age restriction, which will apply to 39 products<br />

containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre,<br />

will come into force in March <strong>2018</strong>. Once the ban is<br />

implemented, customers wishing to buy these products<br />

will need to show appropriate ID.<br />

Michael Fletcher, commercial director at the Group,<br />

said: “There is growing concern about the consumption<br />

of energy drinks among young people and we recognise<br />

that we must act. It’s a balance between offering choice<br />

whilst doing the right thing and we have listened to<br />

parents and teachers who want to limit young peoples’<br />

access to high caffeine drinks.”<br />

The age restriction will be applied in 2,700 Co-op Group<br />

stores and over 1,000 independent co-op society stores.<br />

The move follows growing concern over possible health<br />

risks from the high caffeine and sugar content of energy<br />

drinks. A 2014 report from the World Health Organization<br />

concluded: “As energy drink sales are rarely regulated<br />

by age … and there is a proven negative effect of caffeine<br />

on children, there is the potential for a significant public<br />

health problem in future.”<br />



Taxiapp UK, the non-for-profit app run by London’s<br />

black cab drivers, has launched a new and improved app<br />

following a surge of interest in its ethical business model.<br />

The app is the first of its kind, with the stated intention<br />

of “providing a sustainable and socially invested<br />

alternative to the widely scrutinised transport platforms<br />

that continue to shake the foundations of London’s<br />

transport industry”.<br />

The tech, funded and run by a co-operative<br />

of drivers, aims to modernise the black cab sector.<br />

It is fully accredited by Transport for London and uses<br />

black cab drivers fully versed in ‘The Knowledge’, the<br />

famous London taxi test which calls on them to commit<br />

25,000 of the capital’s streets to memory.<br />

Founder member Sean Paul Day said: “This a crucial<br />

time for tech starts-up like Taxiapp, who continue to<br />

prove more self-sufficient than established alternatives.”<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 9





A key part of Fairtrade is that a minimum price is paid<br />

to certified producers for certified products. Minimum<br />

prices are set and adjusted periodically for specific<br />

regions, based on a methodology estimating the average<br />

cost of sustainable production. They are designed as<br />

a safety net for producers when market prices are low.<br />

But when Fairtrade-certified producers enjoy higher<br />

prices than non-certified farmers, it can be hard to isolate<br />

the factors behind this differential Price mechanism.<br />

Oxfam’s new report, Reward Work, Not Wealth, says<br />

co-ops can offer a solution to the world’s “inequality<br />

crisis”. It shows that last year a new billionaire was<br />

created every two days, with dangerous, poorly paid<br />

work supporting the extreme wealth of the few. 82% of all<br />

wealth created last year went to the top 1%. This amount<br />

was enough to end world poverty seven times over.<br />

Women overwhelmingly experience the worst working<br />

conditions, it says, while nine out of 10 billionaires are<br />

men. But the report adds that co-ops are one of the most<br />

important of the alternative models available for designing<br />

a fair economy.<br />



The Labour Party is setting up a Community Wealth<br />

Building Unit to support co-operatives and mutuals<br />

as a means of driving local economic growth.<br />

Speaking at an event in Preston, shadow chancellor John<br />

McDonnell said Labour would work with the Co-op Party,<br />

trade unions and thinktanks to implement the community<br />

wealth building model across the UK.<br />

Over the last couple of years, Preston City Council<br />

–inspired by the example of Cleveland in the USA –<br />

has been pioneering the model in the UK, through<br />

collaboration and procurement practices.<br />



Canadian financial co-op Desjardins Group announced a<br />

series of measures to help it tackle climate change, with a<br />

new set of targets set to go into its team annual report from<br />

<strong>2018</strong> onwards. With assets of CAD $276.3bn, Desjardins is<br />

the country’s largest co-operative financial group and the<br />

largest association of credit unions in North America.<br />

“As a financial co-operative, we can lead by example<br />

and encourage the transition to a greener economy,”<br />

said Guy Cormier, president and chief executive.<br />

10 Review <strong>2018</strong>



Credit unions in the USA are defending their right<br />

to federal tax exemption, following questions raised<br />

by Senate Finance Committee chair, Orrin Hatch.<br />

Federal credit unions across the country are currently<br />

exempt from federal corporate income tax on the grounds<br />

that they operate on a not for profit basis, are organised<br />

without capital stock, and operate for mutual purposes.<br />

However, state credit unions pay unrelated business<br />

income tax on income from activities not related to<br />

their tax-exempt purpose. The tax exemption is valued<br />

at $2.9bn a year, according to the Joint Committee<br />

on Taxation.<br />



A robot wolf tested by Japan Agricultural Co-ops as<br />

a way of protecting crops is going into mass production.<br />

The Super Monster Wolf, a 65cm-long, 50cm-tall<br />

animatronic beast, is powered by solar-rechargeable<br />

batteries. With realistic-looking fur, sharp fangs and<br />

glaring red eyes, it was developed to scare wild boar<br />

away from rice and chestnut crops. When it detects an<br />

approaching animal, its eyes start flashing and it lets<br />

out a range of terrifying howls.<br />



<strong>OF</strong> NISA<br />

The Competition Market Authority has started an<br />

investigation into the anticipated acquisition by the<br />

Co-operative Group of Nisa Retail Limited.<br />

Launched on 22 February, the first phase of the inquiry<br />

is an invitation to comment, which will be open until<br />

9 March <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

The regulator is examining whether the transaction,<br />

if carried into effect, would result in the creation of a<br />

relevant merger situation which might cause “substantial<br />

lessening” of competition within the markets. The CMA<br />

will take a decision by 23 April.<br />

Nisa members approved the Co-op Group’s offer to buy<br />

the business for £137.5m in November last year but the<br />

offer requires the approval of CMA.<br />

Nisa is a brand and buying group of independent<br />

retailers and wholesalers in the UK.<br />

The Group became the exclusive bidder for Nisa after<br />

Sainsbury’s dropped out, arguably due to concerns that<br />

CMA could block the acquisition.<br />

Also a mutual, Nisa includes members who own<br />

convenience stores, with their stake based on how many<br />

stores they own. It provides a franchise model for 3,466<br />

convenience stores owned by 1,300 members. At the<br />

time the deal was reached, Nisa chair Peter Hartley said<br />

the Group would add buying power and product range<br />

to the mutual’s offering, while respecting its culture<br />

of independence. The Group would also take on Nisa's<br />

existing debt of £105m.<br />

Last year Nisa reported annual sales totalling £728m<br />

for the 26 weeks to October 2017, up by 12.4% from the<br />

previous year.<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 11

Anniversaries<br />

150 YEARS<br />

East of England Co-operative<br />

The retailer can trace its roots to March 1868, when local<br />

people in the region came together to set up a shop selling<br />

quality food at affordable prices.<br />

Today’s society is an amalgamation of smaller societies<br />

from across East Anglia, including the Clacton, Coggeshall<br />

and Maldon societies. Now East of England has over 230<br />

stores and branches across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and<br />

Cambridgeshire, over 4,000 employees and<br />

288,000 members.<br />

Radstock Co-operative<br />

The society traces its roots back to March 1868,<br />

when there was a preliminary meeting at the town’s<br />

Workingman’s Hall to establish the Radstock Co-op<br />

and Industrial Society, to look after the interests<br />

of mining families.<br />

It began trading the following year from a purpose<br />

-built store at 3 Wells Road – still the location of the<br />

current head office.<br />


170 YEARS<br />

Burgesses' and Trades' Poor<br />

Box of Anstruther-Easter<br />

Friendly Society<br />

160 YEARS<br />

Kingston Unity Friendly<br />

Society Limited<br />

140 YEARS<br />

Railway Enginemen's<br />

Assurance Society Limited<br />

120 YEARS<br />

Fivemiletown And<br />

Brookeborough Co-op<br />

Agricultural And Dairy<br />

Society Limited<br />

100 YEARS<br />

South Norwood Allotment<br />

Holders Association,<br />

Gwinear Holdings, Graiseley<br />

and District Co-operative<br />

Allotment Society, Coseley<br />

Allotment and Smallholders<br />

Co-operative Society<br />

Limited, Torquay Allotment<br />

Holders' Co-operative<br />

Association, Castleford<br />

and District Allotments<br />

Federation, Dunstable<br />

Victoria Club and Institute,<br />

Hayes Working Men's Club<br />

and Institute Limited<br />

50 YEARS<br />

Mudeford and District<br />

Fishermen's Association,<br />

Warwickshire Country<br />

Markets Limited, Greenwich<br />

Leisure, London Federation<br />

of Housing Co-operatives,<br />

Mzough U Tiv Uk Benevolent<br />

Society, Flamesavers Credit<br />

Union, Calderdale Credit<br />

Union, Tees Credit Union,<br />

Plane Saver Credit<br />

Union, All Flintshire Credit<br />

Union, St John's Hill Credit<br />

Union, First Choice Credit<br />

Union, Castle & Crystal<br />

Credit Union, Partners<br />

Credit Union, Steam<br />

Ahead Credit Union, South<br />

Central Middlesbrough<br />

Credit Union, Irlam and<br />

Cadishead Savings and<br />

Credit Union, Lagan Valley<br />

Credit Union, Lecale Credit<br />

Union, Star Credit Union,<br />

Newtownbutler Credit<br />

Union, South Fermanagh<br />

Credit Union, Muckamore<br />

Credit Union.<br />

12 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Obituaries<br />

BILL HALL, 86<br />

Died on 3 January<br />

Bill Hall served as main<br />

board member of the former<br />

Derby & Burton, East<br />

Midlands, Central Midlands<br />

and Midlands Co-operative<br />

Societies, and was chair<br />

of the Derby Co-operative<br />

Party over several decades.<br />


Died on 22 April<br />

A legal practitioner, Jacqui<br />

Forster was a leading light<br />

in the supporters’ trust<br />

movement. A lifelong fan<br />

of Altrincham FC, she<br />

helped set up a supporters’<br />

trust for the club and later<br />

became its vice president.<br />

Her involvement in the<br />

co-op movement started<br />

in 2003, when she joined<br />

Supporters Direct. As<br />

head of casework and<br />

constitutional affairs,<br />

she worked with supporters<br />

to purchase and develop<br />

community-owned clubs.<br />

In December 2015,<br />

she was given just months<br />

to live but continued her<br />

work. In January 2017<br />

she set up Women at the<br />

Game, to bring women fans<br />

together to attend matches.<br />


69 Died on 1 April<br />

As director general of the<br />

International Co-operative<br />

Alliance from 1988-2001,<br />

Bruce Thordarson played<br />

a leading role in drafting<br />

the Statement on the<br />

Co-operative Identity, which<br />

was released in 1995. He<br />

also served in various in the<br />

Canadian co-op movement.<br />

BURT CROSS, 97<br />

Died on 15 May<br />

Burt Cross joined CWS in<br />

1937, rising through the<br />

ranks from his first role in<br />

the postal department and<br />

taking an economics degree<br />

through a Co-operative<br />

College scholarship.<br />

In 1966 he became head<br />

of marketing for CWS and<br />

was involved in the rollout<br />

of the iconic cloverleaf logo.<br />


<strong>OF</strong> MACCLESFIELD, 80<br />

Died on 1 July<br />

A former managing<br />

director of the Co-op<br />

Bank, he established<br />

a new approach to<br />

banking, committing<br />

the organisation to its<br />

customer-led ethical policy<br />

in 1992. Paul Monaghan,<br />

chief executive of the<br />

Fair Tax Mark and former<br />

head of sustainability at<br />

the Co-op Group, said:<br />

“Before him, the UK’s co-op<br />

movement was shrinking<br />

into irrelevance... but<br />

he demonstrated what<br />

co-operative values and<br />

principles looked like in<br />

a modern context.”<br />


Died on 6 October<br />

A former president of the<br />

International Co-operative<br />

Alliance’s regional office<br />

for Africa (ICA Africa),<br />

Stanley Muchiri was first<br />

elected in 2003.<br />

Under his mandate,<br />

the ICA held its 2013 Global<br />

Conference and General<br />

Assembly in Cape Town.<br />

It was the first time in the<br />

organisation’s long history<br />

that the event took place on<br />

the continent. At the time<br />

of his death, Mr Muchiri,<br />

who dedicated four decades<br />

of his life to Kenya’s co-op<br />

movement, was attending<br />

the Ministerial Conference<br />

of ICA Africa.<br />

LEO BARCHAM, 96<br />

Died on 6 October<br />

Leo Barcham helped<br />

found Queenslanders Credit<br />

Union in Australia in 1963<br />

after noticing colleagues<br />

struggling with their<br />

finances. His efforts were<br />

later honoured with a<br />

Pioneer Award at the<br />

Australian Credit<br />

Union Convention.<br />


Died on 27 October<br />

Sir Dennis joined the CWS<br />

in 1970 as food controller<br />

and was deputy chief<br />

executive from 1974 to 1980<br />

and chief executive from<br />

1980 to 1992. As deputy CEO,<br />

he played a leading role in<br />

the rationalisation<br />

of CWS’s activities in<br />

the 1970s, with efforts to<br />

modernise production and<br />

increase productivity.<br />

As chief executive,<br />

he tried to improve CWS’s<br />

performance by increasing<br />

integration of the its retail<br />

activities, developing closer<br />

links with the retail societies<br />

and renationalising its<br />

production and<br />

distribution activities.<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 13

Q&A – Ed Mayo<br />

Co-operatives UK is the umbrella organisation for<br />

the sector, representing Britain’s thousands of co-op<br />

businesses. Ed Mayo has been leading the organisation<br />

since 2009, when he took over from Pauline Green. Prior<br />

to this, he was chief executive of the National Consumer<br />

Council and director of the New Economics Foundation.<br />

Here he examines what 2019 could bring for co-ops<br />

across the country – the challenges posed by Brexit,<br />

as well as potential opportunities for co-ops to present<br />

themselves as alternative business models.<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for Cooperatives UK?<br />

We had a tremendous year with more co-ops than<br />

ever in membership, some important policy wins and<br />

pioneering innovation and growth within the movement.<br />

Together with our members, we’ve helped develop the<br />

UK’s first platform co-ops, launched a new body (Student<br />

Co-op Homes) and supported over 160 groups through our<br />

co-op development programme, The Hive – which this<br />

year received extended support from The Co-operative<br />

Bank until 2020. This is in line with the National<br />

Co-operative Development Strategy.<br />

We influenced farming policy with the creation of a<br />

£10m collaboration fund, safeguarding farmers’ ability<br />

to co-operate through amendments to Brexit legislation.<br />

A commitment was secured from government to review<br />

legal regulations for societies, while our campaigning<br />

resulted in the FCA proposing to abolish annual fees for<br />

societies – with potential savings of up to £495 a year<br />

per society.<br />

Every year Co-operatives UK publishes a report on<br />

the country’s co-operative economy. What did this year’s<br />

report reveal about the state of the sector?<br />

In <strong>2018</strong>, we identified that new co-ops are almost<br />

twice as likely as start-up companies to survive their first<br />

five years. Just 44% of companies survive the difficult early<br />

years while 80% of co-operatives are still going strong.<br />

Co-operatives are resilient and sustainable businesses<br />

and the Co-op Economy data reinforces that view.<br />

The report also showed that the UK’s 7,226 independent<br />

co-operatives contribute £36.1bn a year to the UK economy<br />

and employ 235,000 people. The number of active members<br />

continues to grow, reaching 13.1 million.<br />

How did co-operatives make a difference in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

We’ve seen continued growth in community benefit<br />

societies launching successful community share offers<br />

to save local shops and pubs, finance renewal energy<br />

schemes, transform community facilities, support local<br />

food growing, restore heritage buildings and much more.<br />

In <strong>2018</strong> we were delighted to award the 100th Community<br />

Shares Mark to Eden Rose Community, an organisation<br />

benefiting people with life limiting conditions. We’ve<br />

supported 33 inspiring community groups with nearly<br />

£1m in supplementary investment income through the<br />

Power to Change-funded Booster programme.<br />

What will be the main challenges for co-ops in 2019<br />

and what can they do to prepare for these?<br />

The B word is unavoidable, sorry! Brexit and the<br />

uncertainty it brings will be a challenge for co-ops<br />

– and businesses of all types. We’re now lobbying for<br />

co-ops as government designs the UK’s replacement for<br />

EU funds. As we move into 2019 we’ll be campaigning<br />

alongside partners for more government spending on<br />

programmes which broaden ownership in the economy.<br />

In terms of preparation, the first step for any co-op is<br />

to identify and review key risks to decide what your co-op<br />

should do in a range of scenarios. It’s not all doom and<br />

gloom, as we all know that co-ops often spring up as a<br />

solution to broken markets and there is an opportunity<br />

to ‘do it ourselves’ in 2019.<br />

14 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Credit: Co-operatives UK

Q&A – Ariel Guarco<br />

Ariel Guarco took over as president of the International<br />

Co-operative Alliance following his election at the<br />

organisation's General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur<br />

in November 2017. He has been a board member<br />

of the Alliance since 2013 and is also president<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for you and for the global co-operative<br />

sector more generally?<br />

We are at the end of a very positive year in which<br />

we were able to carry out many of the actions we had<br />

set out to do. I am very satisfied with the performance<br />

of the Alliance’s staff headed by its director general<br />

Bruno Roelants.<br />

In the same sense, we are achieving the desired synergy<br />

between the board, the regions and the sectors. Through<br />

a meeting that took place during the first months of the<br />

year we were able to get a clear picture of the issues and<br />

needs of our members and we are laying the groundwork<br />

for elaborating a ten-year strategy. Furthermore, we have<br />

increased our membership, going from 305 to 313 members<br />

spread across 110 countries and 5 continents – and have<br />

been in contact with many of them. Personally, I travelled<br />

to 20 countries, sharing with colleagues the vision of the<br />

role we need to play as a global movement. I also met with<br />

leaders of other organisations, such as the ILO, the FAO<br />

and IFAD. This helped us position ourselves more clearly<br />

within the framework of the 2030 agenda of the United<br />

Nations and become a key figure in the Global Sustainable<br />

Development Alliance.<br />

What were the most important events for<br />

co-operatives in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

There were numerous events and we value each<br />

meeting that will enable us to strengthen the integration<br />

and presence of co-operatives at local, regional and global<br />

levels. Personally, I was touched by participating in the<br />

International Day of Co-operatives celebration at the<br />

United Nations again, along with the Committee for the<br />

Advancement and Promotion of Co-operatives (Copac).<br />

This, along with other exchanges, confirmed that the<br />

International Co-operative Alliance is valued and listened<br />

to at the United Nations.<br />

We also arranged four board meetings in Brussels, Paris,<br />

Birmingham and Buenos Aires, which were very important<br />

for generating action plans within the framework of the<br />

of Cooperar, the Co-operative Confederation<br />

of Argentina. Co-op News caught up with him to<br />

find out how his first year in this role was and what<br />

the movement should look forward to in 2019.<br />

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and setting<br />

out a strategy for the next decade. I would like to also<br />

highlight that in Buenos Aires we brought together some<br />

of the strongest co-operatives and co-operative groups from<br />

across the world to launch the International Co-operative<br />

Entrepreneurship Think Tank. Finally, I shared many good<br />

moments with colleagues from many countries I was able<br />

to visit, such as Nepal, India, Germany, the UK, France,<br />

Spain, Italy, Denmark, the USA, Brazil, El Salvador, Puerto<br />

Rico, Mexico, Jamaica, Uruguay, Paraguay, Dominican<br />

Republic, Ecuador and Bolivia, among others. Next<br />

year, we will organise our General Assembly in Rwanda,<br />

Africa, which will be a great opportunity to showcase the<br />

continent’s co-operatives and help to position the African<br />

co-operative movement on the global scene.<br />

What will be the main challenges for co-ops in 2019?<br />

Co-operatives exist within the same world as<br />

other enterprises and suffer the same consequences.<br />

But how they face these challenges is what sets them<br />

apart. Intercooperation and creating strategic partnerships<br />

are perhaps the greatest challenges as a movement.<br />

Could you give us any details about the Alliance’s<br />

projects for 2019?<br />

Efforts to increase the visibility of co-ops as sustainable<br />

development goals (SDG) actors will be central to our work<br />

in 2019. It is something our members have asked for in the<br />

survey we carried out at the beginning of this year and we<br />

have taken that into account. The ICA team is working on<br />

building a multi-year campaign until 2030 focused on this<br />

theme. And in June we will organise a conference in Geneva<br />

with the ILO, which will be themed around The Future<br />

of Work, within the framework of the centenary of the<br />

Alliance. A few days after, on 6 July, all co-operators will<br />

celebrate the International Day of Co-operatives. Guests<br />

are invited! In October we will be in Kigali for our Global<br />

Conference and General Assembly, which will be focused<br />

on sustainable development.<br />

16 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Credit: The Co-operative College

Technology: Polly Robbins<br />

Co-working space and events manager at tech worker co-operative Outlandish<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for your co-op and the tech co-op<br />

sector in general?<br />

Good for collaborations: our CoTech network<br />

continues to grow and we are able to take on bigger and<br />

more complex projects by teaming up with other co-ops<br />

with different specialisms. Collaborations this year include<br />

new iterations of washdata.org and schoolcuts.org.uk<br />

Travel abroad: one of our members spoke at the UN in<br />

Istanbul about a technology we are using; another spoke<br />

in Norway to share learning about how the co-operative<br />

model works.<br />

We have faced a serious challenge around banking,<br />

though – we have struggled to find a bank that<br />

understands our co-op structure. The Co-op Bank itself<br />

only recently started catering for organisations with<br />

our particular legal structure, and still then is not very<br />

confident dealing with it. We are also struggling to find<br />

accountants who understand the company and the logic<br />

behind it!<br />

While the CoTech network has a lot of potential,<br />

it's also challenging as few of the co-ops have enough<br />

work or financial growth to put the money and/or time<br />

into growing the initiative.<br />

we can continue to provide low and no-cost space to<br />

people who need it).<br />

Getting ready for an election, particularly with the<br />

campaign sites that we win. We're talking to the Labour<br />

Party and policy makers about what co-ops are, and why<br />

they support the economy, so that when there is a new<br />

government co-ops will be supported to grow.<br />

How did your co-op make a difference in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

We grew Space4, our co-working and events space.<br />

We have brought more than 500 people to the space<br />

through events and workshops, all of whom have learnt<br />

about what co-ops are, and that the tech co-op sector<br />

exists. This initiative has also supported the development<br />

of four new co-ops, which are given free space, plus<br />

advice and support to become a co-op.<br />

London Tech-Week – we hosted a big event with<br />

publicity alongside it. This attracted people from the<br />

UK government, international governments and the<br />

corporate tech sector. We showed them that co-ops are<br />

capable of creating amazing technology and services.<br />

How is your co-operative preparing for the<br />

challenges ahead?<br />

Continuing collaborations, so that we draw on<br />

the strengths of the whole co-operative sector.<br />

Looking into alternative funding for Space4, so that<br />

we're not reliant on sales in order to grow (meaning<br />

An event held by Outlandish. Credit: Soda Visual<br />

18 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Healthcare: Carlos Zarco<br />

President of the International Health Co-operative Organisation (IHCO)<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for IHCO and the global health<br />

co-operative sector?<br />

It has been an important year for the health co-op<br />

sector. The study we did in collaboration with Euricse<br />

confirmed that around 100 million places across the<br />

world have access to health services through co-ops<br />

and over the past 30 years the sector consolidated in<br />

response to the difficulties faced by health systems,<br />

having to come with an increase in demand and<br />

health expenses.<br />

We have examples such as Unimed in Brazil, which<br />

boasts 345 health co-ops and 114,000 doctors, which this<br />

year alone has served 38% of the country’s population.<br />

Another relevant case study is in the Philippines,<br />

where 1Coop Health reached an agreement with a network<br />

of health centres to provide affordable health plans and<br />

services, which facilitates the access to health services<br />

for more and more people.<br />

Health co-operatives share a strong presence in<br />

Europe as well. In Spain, which according to a report<br />

by Bloomberg has the most efficient health system on<br />

the continent, more than 2.2 million people have benefited<br />

from healthcare from a co-operative. This helps ease<br />

pressure on public services, which in turn benefits<br />

the general public.<br />

Could you give us any details about IHCO’s<br />

projects for 2019?<br />

In our working plan for 2019 we have included<br />

actions to reinforce collaboration with international<br />

bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO),<br />

the International Labour Organization (ILO), the G20<br />

and B20 and the Alliance for Health Promotion, with the<br />

objective of improving the visibility of the values of health<br />

co-operatives. We want to be present and participate in<br />

the relevant forums to ensure the IHCO and its members<br />

are well represented.<br />

We also want to raise awareness about the role<br />

health co-operatives play in the UN’s Agenda for 2030<br />

and their contribution to attaining universal health<br />

coverage. More specifically, we are working with the ILO<br />

and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation<br />

to create a platform to raise awareness about health<br />

co-operatives, which will include case studies of good<br />

practices and training tools as well as a database on<br />

health co-ops, which can bring their experience in the<br />

development of co-operative healthcare in low and<br />

middle income countries.<br />

What will be the main challenges for health<br />

co-operatives in 2019?<br />

Health co-operatives must use their full potential<br />

to position the co-operative model on the agenda<br />

of governments as an important tool in dealing with<br />

issues such as an ageing population, the chronification<br />

of diseases and the sustainability of healthcare systems.<br />

Health co-operatives are an enterprise model that are<br />

economically viable, which compete on the market to the<br />

same extent if not more than other types of enterprises,<br />

and which are also socially responsible and have a<br />

long-term perspective, which favours sustainability.<br />

For decades, health co-operatives have proven their<br />

ability to adapt to different socio-economic contexts,<br />

to respond to the new necessities that emerge in society<br />

and bring resources that would otherwise not be allocated<br />

to health and wellbeing.<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 19

Legal: David Alcock<br />

Partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for your organisation and the co-op<br />

sector in general?<br />

For Anthony Collins Solicitors, <strong>2018</strong> was a good year;<br />

we are opening an office in Manchester, which we are very<br />

excited about. It’s the first time we’ve had a base outside<br />

Birmingham and represents a real step change. We were<br />

also delighted to get the Co-operatives UK legal surgery<br />

contract this year – it’s already meant that we’ve been<br />

able to support many more co-ops.<br />

For the sector in general, I think it’s a really mixed<br />

picture. Trading conditions are tricky for all sorts<br />

of organisations and while co-ops are very resilient,<br />

I think it’s been a challenging time. But there’s been<br />

lots of interest in mutuality and better ways of doing<br />

business, so that’s great.<br />

What were the key legal issues co-ops have<br />

campaigned for this year?<br />

It’s been an interesting year from that perspective.<br />

Particular sectors have been very busy; co-operative<br />

and community-led housing organisations have been<br />

successful in lobbying for the Community Housing<br />

Fund, which is very significant for that movement<br />

and gives some real opportunities in the next two<br />

years. It’s a short timescale but worth a go!<br />

More generally, it was good to see Co-operatives<br />

UK talking to the sector about possible legal changes<br />

across the board. At ACS we have argued strongly for<br />

the introduction of an “indivisible reserve” for societies,<br />

ensuring that part of the value generated from a co-op’s<br />

work can be held for the growth of the movement or<br />

particular initiatives.<br />

With Brexit due to take place next year, what<br />

challenges will co-ops face in terms of legislation?<br />

I think the immediate implications (depending on<br />

what kind of deal we get) are practical rather than legal.<br />

All we know for certain is that the legal framework itself<br />

will not change on 1 April 2019, as the EU Withdrawal<br />

Act takes EU law just before we exit and applies it to<br />

our law the following day – just so the law doesn’t<br />

fall off a cliff.<br />

Beyond that, as the change starts to take effect, we<br />

will see very major changes in agricultural policy and<br />

subsidy, which will significantly affect co-ops in that<br />

sector. We’re also likely to see changes in consumer<br />

protection law and policy, employment law, and<br />

many other areas where EU involvement has been<br />

very significant. Essentially – watch this space.<br />

It’s going to be an interesting ride.<br />

20 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Politics: Claire McCarthy<br />

General secretary of the Co-operative Party<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for the Co-operative Party?<br />

The Co-operative Party had another busy and<br />

successful year. We continue to grow our membership<br />

and our impact.<br />

We have continued to drive forward on the growth<br />

agenda. We were delighted to commission the New<br />

Economics Foundation to write an independent report<br />

on what steps it would take to double the size of the<br />

co-operative sector. Co-ops Unleashed sets out an exciting<br />

blueprint for future action. Our implementation group has<br />

begun consulting the movement on the proposals in the<br />

report, not least what a co-operative development agency<br />

for England would look like.<br />

We made another big step forward in our work in<br />

local government this year. A record number of Labour<br />

& Co-operative councillors were elected across England<br />

in May – including more than 200 in London, where we<br />

now have more Councillors than the Lib Dems. The Labour<br />

& Co-operative Metro Mayors – Andy Burnham and Dan<br />

Jarvis – have both begun work to investigate the full<br />

potential of co-operation in their city regions.<br />

More than 70 local authorities across Britain have<br />

signed up to the Party’s charter against modern slavery<br />

ensuring that there is no place to hide for exploitation<br />

in council supply chains. This includes councils run<br />

by the Conservatives and the SNP and in many cases<br />

approval for the charter has been passed unanimously<br />

in council chambers.<br />

government, led by Co-operative politicians, including<br />

the London Assembly, Welsh Assembly, Scottish<br />

Parliament, Westminster and the European Parliament.<br />

What are the main challenges ahead for 2019<br />

and how is the Party preparing for them?<br />

It’s hard to look ahead without mentioning Brexit.<br />

The Party is working with the movement to make the case<br />

against a damaging No Deal Brexit; as well as working to<br />

ensure co-operation can play a bigger role going forward,<br />

most recently in the passage of the Agriculture and<br />

Fisheries Bills.<br />

Beyond Brexit, there is important work to do that we<br />

won’t neglect. One focus will be working with our newest<br />

organisational member – Usdaw – and the retail societies<br />

on strengthening the protections for shopworkers that are<br />

threatened or attacked during the course of their work.<br />

Shopworkers do an important job for us all in enforcing<br />

the law and we must collectively have their backs.<br />

What were the key issues Co-op Party MPs have<br />

campaigned for this year?<br />

Labour & Co-operative MPs, peers, Welsh Assembly<br />

Members (AMs) and Members of the Scottish Parliament<br />

(MSPs) were active across a wide range of issues of<br />

importance to the movement including community<br />

energy, the expansion of credit unions, the regulatory<br />

environment for co-ops, support for employee ownership<br />

and employee share ownership, the contribution of the<br />

co-op sector to the British economy and Fairtrade.<br />

In addition, they have played a key role in our<br />

campaigns on tackling modern slavery and, in just the<br />

last few weeks, on tackling violence against shopworkers.<br />

During our month of action against modern slavery<br />

in the autumn there was activity at every level of<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 21

Channel Islands: Colin Macleod<br />

Chief executive of the Channel Islands Co-operative Society<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for your co-op and your sector?<br />

Despite challenging trading conditions and the<br />

introduction of Morrisons to the islands we are fortunate<br />

to have had another year of solid progress. Our food and<br />

travel businesses delivered a strong uplift in sales and<br />

our care businesses (medical, pharmacy and funeral)<br />

continue to grow.<br />

We opened two new convenience stores, Locale<br />

Charing Cross in Jersey and Locale The Bridge in<br />

Guernsey, and we continue to invest in our society<br />

to ensure that our range of services are relevant and<br />

appealing to our pan-island members.<br />

How did your co-op make a difference in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

In early <strong>2018</strong> we launched our ‘Belonging is<br />

everything campaign’. Believing in the value of belonging<br />

has shaped our society since opening our first store in<br />

the Channel Islands in 1919 and making a difference to<br />

the communities we serve is at the heart of everything<br />

we do.<br />

In <strong>2018</strong> we:<br />

• returned £8m to local member owners in dividend<br />

• purchased £11m worth of goods from over 40<br />

local producers<br />

• donated £230,000 to over 500 local community projects<br />

• have phased out the use of single-use plastic carrier bags<br />

and, are working alongside the Co-op Group and local<br />

suppliers to reduce the amount of plastic usage<br />

and increase recycling opportunities.<br />

How is your co-operative preparing for the<br />

challenges ahead?<br />

Following a significant strategic planning exercise<br />

in <strong>2018</strong> we are very much looking forward to bringing<br />

our Belonging message to life. Next year, significant<br />

investment in transformation will start to yield benefits<br />

as we become far better equipped with insight. We believe<br />

we have a clear and compelling view on how to build<br />

emotional connection with our owners in the digital<br />

age and we are excited about the future.<br />

22 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Agriculture: Umberto Di Pasquo<br />

Senior policy advisor at European agri-cooperatives and farmers apex body Copa-Cogeca<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for your organisation and European<br />

agri co-ops in general?<br />

<strong>2018</strong> was a productive and dynamic year here.<br />

Together with our members, staff worked with dedication<br />

and ambition to keep EU agri-co-operatives and farmers<br />

informed and their positions heard and represented.<br />

We have continued pushing for a strong and sustainable<br />

future CAP that benefits our farmers, their co-operatives<br />

and consumers, ensuring vibrant rural areas across the<br />

EU. In particular, we have advocated for a truly common<br />

CAP with a strong budget, because EU farming can make<br />

a significant contribution to combating climate<br />

change – but only if we can ensure the economic<br />

viability of farmers. The use of new technologies, better<br />

functioning agri-food value chain and investments to<br />

ensure competitiveness of the sector in the eyes of the<br />

young are just some elements that we are focusing on<br />

in this regard. Additionally, we are also encouraging<br />

the creation and development of professional, well-run<br />

and competitive processing and distribution structures<br />

operated by producers and their co-operatives.<br />

Recognising the specificities of the agricultural sector<br />

and allowing farmers to work collectively to pursue their<br />

economic objectives are two essential preconditions for<br />

strengthening farmers’ position in the food supply chain<br />

and thus improving their bargaining power.<br />

We succeeded with our advocacy for EU legislation<br />

to counter Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) in the Food<br />

Supply Chain, while another focus was on the opening of<br />

new markets and promoting our high European standards<br />

of production abroad. In the secretariat during the past<br />

year we have actively<br />

followed and contributed<br />

to all EU trade negotiations<br />

and engaged in talks with<br />

our respective counterparts<br />

across the world.<br />

Finally, Brexit has<br />

certainly been one of the<br />

main topics on the Brussels<br />

agenda this past year and<br />

in Copa and Cogeca it<br />

was no different. The UK<br />

represents a significant<br />

part of the EU single market. Additionally, besides the<br />

many international European agri-co-operatives that have<br />

proceeded with classical foreign investment strategies in<br />

Great Britain and Northern Ireland (exporting, licensing<br />

and franchising, strategic alliances, joint ventures and<br />

FDI), some agri-co-operatives have established either<br />

supplier relations or even co-operative member relations<br />

with British farmers in the UK. Several transnational<br />

co-ops have mother companies in Northwest Europe,<br />

particularly in the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands<br />

and Denmark. The combination of small home markets<br />

and high market integration with neighbouring UK<br />

has often driven the internationalisation strategies<br />

of these organisations. Economic ties between the UK<br />

and continental EU are strong. European farmers and agri<br />

co-operatives from the EU and the UK will be hit hard by<br />

Brexit. We have been following the developments very<br />

closely and met the EU chief negotiator Michael Barnier<br />

and his team on numerous occasions to be fully informed<br />

about the negotiation process and to raise our concerns.<br />

How did agri co-ops make a difference in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

Agri-co-operatives are businesses that survive or fail<br />

based on their ability to provide services or goods to their<br />

farmer members, who own the enterprises.<br />

They are entrepreneurial and must compete with other<br />

forms of business. They have ensured the sustainability<br />

and competitiveness of the sector, by serving farmer<br />

members and understanding consumer demand, by<br />

supporting farmers in rebalancing their position in the<br />

food chain, by pooling existing processing assets and<br />

keeping them in the hands of their farmer members,<br />

by moving the sector from resilience to anti-fragility,<br />

by creating job and boosting growth in rural areas.<br />

How can co-ops prepare for the challenges ahead?<br />

Agri-cooperatives should focus their strategic<br />

operational priorities on: a) continuing to empower farmer<br />

members by providing tools to thrive in a circular, resilient<br />

and innovative agricultural economy; b) going beyond<br />

resilience or robustness and learning how to gain from<br />

unexpected stress or from volatility; c) creating value<br />

-added economies of scale, increased market position<br />

and consolidation.<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 23

Education: Simon Parkinson<br />

Principal and chief executive of the Co-operative College<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for your organisation and your sector?<br />

<strong>2018</strong> was an exciting year for the Co-operative College.<br />

We extended our charitable registration to Scotland<br />

and have expanded our UK project base throughout<br />

the year. We have also re-positioned and re-established<br />

our accredited learning offer and have delivered a<br />

number of new courses in the UK and internationally.<br />

In a year where there were serious concerns raised about<br />

the practices at a number of international development<br />

NGOs, we have worked with other members of the<br />

European Co-operative Development Platform (ECDP)<br />

and the International Co-operative Development<br />

Platform (ICDP) to demonstrate the benefits a co-op<br />

approach to can bring. Education has been at the core<br />

of all our activities throughout <strong>2018</strong> and we’re determined<br />

to change things for the better. We believe that the funding<br />

model for higher education in the UK is broken and we’re<br />

committed to doing something about it. That’s why we’re<br />

working on developing a Co-operative University that<br />

places students right at its heart, and we’ve made huge<br />

strides so far. We want to challenge the current status<br />

quo, shake up the sector and offer something that’s<br />

truly unique.<br />

How has the College made a difference?<br />

As the education charity of the UK movement,<br />

our impact is clear, with project work that transforms<br />

the lives of individuals here in the UK and across the<br />

globe. Our work with young care leavers and young<br />

people with learning disabilities has seen the confidence<br />

of all those involved improve drastically, offering<br />

them new opportunities that not only transform their<br />

lives but also have a hugely positive effect on their<br />

local communities. Our established programme of<br />

international work also continues to yield incredible<br />

results, as highlighted by our Co-operative Pathways<br />

project in Malawi. Since 2012 we have now directly helped<br />

over 30,000 people as they establish or improve their<br />

own co-operative enterprises, a stunning impact that’s<br />

transformed communities right across the country.<br />

What are you most looking forward to in 2019?<br />

Founded in 1919, next year marks our 100th birthday,<br />

a landmark moment in our history. We have a series<br />

of events planned, all building towards our Centenary<br />

Conference at Rochdale Town Hall in November. We want<br />

to use our centenary to build on existing relationships and<br />

partnerships, while establishing new relationships across<br />

the UK and internationally. We need the support of the UK<br />

co-operative movement more than ever in our 100th year<br />

and there are a huge number of ways to get involved. From<br />

joining us as an individual or organisational membership<br />

to attending one of our new accredited courses, there has<br />

never been a better time to join our fight in building a<br />

fairer world for everyone.<br />

Can you tell us more about any of the College's<br />

upcoming projects?<br />

Our Together Enterprise project in Scotland starts<br />

early next year and will transform the lives of young<br />

people in some of the most deprived areas of the country.<br />

We will also be launching an Anglo/German partnership<br />

with DGRV (the apex association of German co-operatives)<br />

to expand our work in Malawi. Our strong partnerships<br />

with organisations such as the Co-operative Foundation<br />

and the Potterspury Lodge Trust will also ensure that<br />

our charitable work goes from strength to strength,<br />

however we will need the support of the co-operative<br />

movement and beyond to ensure we can continue<br />

empowering people to make a real positive difference<br />

in their communities.<br />

24 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Credit unions: Matt Bland<br />

Head of policy and communications at the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (Abcul)<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for your organisation and your sector?<br />

It’s fair to say that <strong>2018</strong> has been a challenging<br />

year for the credit union sector. Though credit unions<br />

continue to grow and strengthen overall, very sadly<br />

there has been a higher than usual number of failed credit<br />

unions. This demonstrates the challenging environment<br />

credit unions are operating in as regulatory burdens<br />

increase, the expectations of consumers expand and<br />

technological innovation becomes ever more imperative.<br />

For Abcul it has been a year of change as we<br />

welcomed a new chief executive (Robert Kelly) and a<br />

new president of the association’s board (Karen Bennett).<br />

With new leadership there are new ideas about how to<br />

take the sector forward and there are exciting<br />

opportunities on the horizon.<br />

How did British credit unions make a difference<br />

in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

Credit unions continue to be the primary vehicle<br />

for the delivery of inclusive financial services in the<br />

country. We have conducted analysis this year on those<br />

credit unions that use our subsidiary’s ALD credit decision<br />

tool which demonstrates the depth and breadth of credit<br />

unions’ lending to those at the margins of the financial<br />

system. Credit unions are lending heavily, for instance,<br />

into all of the 10 most deprived communities according<br />

to the indices of multiple deprivation and consider loans<br />

that few other lenders would in terms of amount or<br />

applicants’ credit scores while charging considerably<br />

less than any other lender to these groups. We also see<br />

patterns of improvement among the credit profiles<br />

of credit union borrowers.<br />

<strong>2018</strong> was an exciting year given the profile and<br />

prominence of issues of financial exclusion and<br />

over-indebtedness from government, the regulatory<br />

authorities and people like Michael Sheen and<br />

his new End High Cost Credit Alliance. There is a<br />

groundswell of support for action to promote the likes<br />

of credit unions and we are keen to see the warm words<br />

and rhetoric of <strong>2018</strong> turn into concrete action in 2019.<br />

What are the key challenges for credit unions in 2019<br />

and how can they prepare for these?<br />

Credit unions’ big challenge is that of relevance.<br />

We know that credit unions’ values resonate with<br />

millennial consumers but today too many credit unions<br />

fall short of that generation’s expectations in terms of<br />

digital accessibility and convenience. Transforming the<br />

way that credit unions can be accessed by their members<br />

will be critical to securing their future. But there are<br />

lots of exciting developments in the fintech space which<br />

present opportunities for credit unions to tackle this<br />

head on.<br />

For Abcul we have some ambitions in the policy space<br />

to provide an environment in which credit unions can<br />

flourish and we are hopeful 2019 will be a year of progress<br />

in that respect. We’d like to see government legislate to<br />

enable credit union innovation in lending, the Bank of<br />

England review its upper capital requirements to unlock<br />

latent growth in the sector and the proposed new Financial<br />

Inclusion Organisation to begin investing in ambitious,<br />

growing credit unions.<br />

Credit unions have much to be optimistic about despite<br />

the many challenges they face. Abcul will be launching<br />

a major town hall consultation at our annual conference<br />

in March to set the vision for the next five years of our<br />

movement and to provide clarity of purpose in terms of the<br />

sector’s ambition, our shared strategy for achieving it and<br />

the ways in which those with a stake in our future<br />

can support us to get there.<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 25

Worker co-op: Siôn Whellens<br />

Member of Calverts design and print co-operative<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for your co-operative and your sector?<br />

Exciting and a bit nervous-making! We’ve done some<br />

great creative work, including designing and producing<br />

Co-operatives UK’s strategy pack. The mood among our<br />

members is upbeat. There are big challenges, because<br />

the market for high-end print – one half of our business<br />

– has shrunk so much. Few of our local competitors are<br />

left, so we’re up against businesses outside London and<br />

elsewhere in Europe. We’re still very much a ‘movement’<br />

communication design and production house. We’re doing<br />

less with charities and campaigns, which have switched<br />

their investment towards web-based communication.<br />

On the other hand, we’re increasingly working<br />

with niche brands in sectors like fashion and jewellery.<br />

We’re also doing more in the higher education and<br />

radical publishing sectors.<br />

Calverts is a contributing member of the Worker<br />

Co-op Solidarity Fund. How has the fund made<br />

a difference in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

Solidfund proved it’s possible for co-operators to<br />

generate resources for development using web-based tools.<br />

The new Principle 6 platform was inspired by it. Secondly,<br />

it increased the confidence and autonomy of the worker<br />

co-op network. Over 600 members have generated more<br />

than £110,000 – all individuals, not co-ops, which is<br />

significant. And not all Solidfund supporters are worker<br />

co-operators, so it’s shown that there’s wider support<br />

for industrial democracy and worker self-management.<br />

Solidfund supported a number of projects in <strong>2018</strong>,<br />

including the Barefoot Coop Developer days aimed<br />

at creating a new generation<br />

of worker co-op organisers.<br />

It also supported<br />

individuals to attend<br />

trainings and conferences<br />

such as Open:<strong>2018</strong>, and<br />

made small but important<br />

donations to underresourced<br />

co-ops or<br />

startups like Creative<br />

Workers Coop in Belfast,<br />

and Kitty’s Laundrette<br />

in Liverpool – a workercommunity<br />

co-op which is creating a social and arts<br />

space, as well as a decent eco-laundry, in a deprived<br />

part of the city.<br />

How is Calverts preparing for the challenges ahead?<br />

We’ve mainly focused on improving our strategic<br />

marketing focus and activity. We built a completely new,<br />

and rather fantastic, website that we think articulates<br />

Calverts’ values and commercial proposition in exactly<br />

the right way, with a strong focus on visual content<br />

and a design that embodies our claim to be a creative,<br />

authoritative and expert resource for our clients.<br />

In October we recruited Sarah Jackson, a brilliant<br />

marketing communicator, to lead on Calverts’ new<br />

business strategy, and we’re always looking to bring in<br />

new ideas and talent – both as a succession strategy and<br />

to be able to think sideways about how we not just survive<br />

but thrive in a very competitive industry.<br />

Left: Sion Whellens, above: Paper Doll printed by Calverts<br />

26 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Energy: Mark Luntley & John Malone<br />

Director and development director at Energy4All, an umbrella body facilitating new energy co-ops<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for you and your sector?<br />

The whole energy sector is undergoing massive shifts<br />

as technology allows societies to change from dirty fossil<br />

-fuelled power generation to clean green energy.<br />

The pace of that transition is accelerating.<br />

There are now 228 active community energy<br />

organisations in England, Wales and NI – which is<br />

great news. However the growth of community energy<br />

groups has stalled in the UK, largely because of a less<br />

supportive government framework.<br />

<strong>2018</strong> was also an incredibly busy year at Energy4All.<br />

We’ve raised over £4.6m in capital in the last two years.<br />

We have a series of projects in Scotland where the national<br />

government is more supportive of community energy.<br />

In spite of the hostile government framework there’s<br />

a real sense of enthusiasm and entrepreneurialism among<br />

our existing and new co-operatives. We’ve developed two<br />

hydro schemes, and refinanced a key scheme at Mean<br />

Moor. We’ve also been elected to the board of European<br />

co-ops and have been supporting their work.<br />

How did renewable energy co-ops make a difference<br />

in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

Community Energy England highlight that in 2017,<br />

community energy capacity in England, Wales and NI<br />

totalled around 169MW – with 33.5MW added in the<br />

year. That’s enough to power 67,000 homes.<br />

But co-operatives make more difference than the<br />

energy generated: co-operatively owned community<br />

projects put people, typically local people, in genuine<br />

control of how their money is used to create democratically<br />

controlled energy. This is in sharp contrast to the<br />

existing models which seek to relegate citizens to the<br />

role of passive, uninformed consumers. We believe that<br />

community ownership is creating a growing band of<br />

people informed about how their energy is generated,<br />

and interested in making other changes in their lives<br />

as a result. We are supporting independent academic<br />

research to establish just how strong this relationship<br />

is among the Energy4All co-ops and their members.<br />

Renewable energy is one of the most popular ways<br />

of generating electricity and community projects are<br />

even more popular. If we want more projects to go<br />

ahead, one key way of achieving this is to make sure<br />

they are genuinely community owned.<br />

How can renewable energy co-ops prepare for<br />

the challenges ahead?<br />

Putting individuals at the heart of the energy<br />

transition is key. Umbrella organisations like<br />

Energy4All help individuals and communities to<br />

take control of energy generation by sharing skills<br />

and expertise.<br />

One opportunity is that the grid is becoming smarter<br />

and energy storage is becoming cheaper. If we want<br />

the public to embrace these technologies, we should<br />

put communities – through co-operatives – at the heart<br />

of these changes, as is happening in several other<br />

European countries.<br />

John Malone, and Mark Luntley<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 27

Singapore: Dolly Goh<br />

Chief executive of the Singapore National Consumer Federation (SNCF)<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for you and your organisation?<br />

<strong>2018</strong> has been a year of changes. The Singapore<br />

National Co-operative Federation (SNCF), through<br />

discussions with its affiliates, provided feedback to<br />

the regulator which impacted the final outcome of the<br />

amended Co-operative Societies Act which came into<br />

operation in April. Some of the positive outcomes are that<br />

the number of individuals needed to set up a co-op has<br />

been reduced from 10 to five; and outdated membership<br />

prohibitions and rules were amended to help facilitate<br />

development of the co-operatives to encourage formation<br />

of new co-ops.<br />

SNCF has also been steadily nurturing Singapore’s<br />

youths in understanding co-operatives and that the<br />

co-operative path is a viable and fulfilling one. Our<br />

youth programmes – such as co-op clubs, Learning<br />

Journey to Co-ops, SCOOP Trail – help foster students’<br />

interests. In <strong>2018</strong> we reached out to over 40,000 youths.<br />

In 2019, Singapore will commemorate its bicentennial.<br />

As part of the celebrations, SNCF is organising a series<br />

of activities themed Coming Together As One Through Art,<br />

from September <strong>2018</strong> to October 2019. This will show how<br />

the man in the street has benefited from the social and<br />

economic impact that co-operatives have created. It will<br />

also promote co-ops as an alternative you can turn to in<br />

times of need, and inspire people, particular youth, to use<br />

the co-operative model in doing well. SNCF worked with<br />

our credit affiliates to launch the first pop-up art event<br />

in September <strong>2018</strong> which focused on the topic of money<br />

and the social issues related to it, such as money-lending<br />

and financial inclusion. The event drew more than 7,000<br />

people – 10% posted their visit on Instagram.<br />

How did co-ops in Singapore make a difference<br />

in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

In <strong>2018</strong>, co-operatives provided job opportunities for<br />

more than 18,000 people in Singapore, and they continue<br />

to deliver social impact. SNCF, together with some of the<br />

affiliates from the credit sector, celebrated International<br />

Credit Union Day by volunteering at NTUC Health<br />

Co-operative’s Nursing Home. SNCF also worked with<br />

other affiliates to support Silver Caregivers Co-operative<br />

(SCCL) in its first Caregivers Carnival in November <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

SSBEC launched their first ever community outreach<br />

initiative, “Giving Back to the Society” in September <strong>2018</strong>,<br />

and NTUC FairPrice Co-operative donated S$1.2m to the<br />

FairPrice Food Voucher scheme to help more than 20,000<br />

needy families alleviate their daily cost of living in <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

How are co-ops preparing for the challenges ahead?<br />

Challenges will continue to plague businesses,<br />

more so for those who serve social needs of communities.<br />

Social needs evolve over generations so while co-ops<br />

prepare themselves to overcome business challenges,<br />

they also need to be in touch with the changing social<br />

needs of communities and keep connected, adaptable and<br />

possess the political will to ensure co-operatives are kept<br />

relevant to run sustainable businesses for social good.<br />

Co-operatives in Singapore will continue to drive<br />

support for the Sustainable Development Goals,<br />

will explore regional and international collaboration<br />

and use technology for efficiency and increased<br />

productivity. This will help co-operatives serve their<br />

members more effectively especially with a younger<br />

generation of membership.<br />

Therefore, SNCF and its affiliates will focus more on<br />

more effective use of social media to reach out to<br />

create awareness.<br />

28 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Wales: Derek Walker<br />

Chief executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for your organisation and<br />

co-operatives in Wales?<br />

<strong>2018</strong> was a good year for the co-op movement in<br />

Wales. Highlights include an emerging strategy for the<br />

future growth of co-operatives to deliver social care.<br />

In addition there has been excellent progress in taking<br />

forward the concept of a community bank of Wales to be<br />

owned by its members, on a one-member, one-vote basis,<br />

offering current accounts and making funds available<br />

locally to small businesses.<br />

Programmes delivered by the Wales Co-operative<br />

Centre continued to do well and to attract support.<br />

Over the past 12 months we have helped create a more<br />

prosperous Wales through the expert support we give<br />

to co-ops and social businesses. This year we were<br />

instrumental in managing the conversion of national<br />

TV Production company, Cwmni Da, to an employeeowned<br />

trust. The managing director wanted to ensure<br />

Cwmni Da remained in the hands of the 50 strong<br />

workforce who have all contributed to its success.<br />

Wales is also more equal as a result of our<br />

pioneering work to end digital and financial exclusion.<br />

Our communities are more cohesive because we bring<br />

people together to tackle the issues that matter to them,<br />

from building new housing to keeping open their local<br />

pub, shop or leisure centre. You can find out more about<br />

our work in our latest Impact Report.<br />

from the Welsh Assembly Commission. Transport for Wales<br />

has also stipulated the use of this factory for their signage<br />

requirements, and meetings are currently underway for<br />

opportunities during the mobilisation stage of the new<br />

train operator contract.<br />

What are the challenges ahead?<br />

In 2019 the Wales Co-operative Centre will be working<br />

with partners to develop a vision for the sector for the next<br />

10 years. We believe there is a need for a new vision and<br />

an action plan to unite and steer the social economy sector<br />

in Wales to address challenges, seize opportunities and to<br />

foresee and capitalise on future trends. We want to create<br />

a positive vision for Wales’ future, clearly demonstrating<br />

where and how the social economy can contribute.<br />

The timing is good as Wales has a new first minister,<br />

Mark Drakeford. In his leadership manifesto he stated he<br />

believes “our most radical days are ahead of us”. On the<br />

economy he has nailed his colours to the mast and has<br />

firmly committed to building a socially just economy and<br />

a common partnership for inclusive growth. He has also<br />

made a firm commitment to stepping up efforts to promote<br />

co-operative provision in social care. So 2019 promises to<br />

be a year of opportunity for the co-operative sector<br />

in Wales.<br />

What were the key issues you have campaigned<br />

for this year?<br />

One of the campaigns we have stepped up this year<br />

has been about persuading public sector bodies to buy<br />

from social enterprises and co-operatives. The Wellbeing<br />

of Future Generations Act has created much more<br />

enthusiasm from Welsh public bodies to ‘buy social’.<br />

Watch out for a new initiative to launch in spring.<br />

EBO Signs is an example of this greater appetite for<br />

social value from public bodies. EBO Signs is a social<br />

enterprise in Ebbw Vale that employs local people with<br />

disabilities. It produces traffic and commercial signage<br />

such as highway signs, street nameplates, safety signs<br />

and hoarding boards. Extra demand for their products<br />

has already resulted in orders placed with the factory<br />

from two local authority main contractors as well as<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 29

Northern Ireland: Tiziana O’Hara<br />

Founder member of Co-operative Alternatives<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for co-ops in Northern Ireland?<br />

This year Ballymacash Sports Academy, a community<br />

benefit society, and Loveworks Co-operative, a worker<br />

co-operative, have both raised the profile of co-operatives<br />

at the Northern Ireland Social Enterprise Awards <strong>2018</strong>,<br />

one of the largest events in the region. The co-operatives<br />

have been recognised respectively in the newly<br />

established category for the innovative way in which<br />

they raised share capital and in the education, training<br />

and jobs category for offering dignified and sustainable<br />

jobs within worker owned enterprises. The established<br />

Coalisland Credit Union was also recognised, being<br />

named credit union of the year.<br />

Supporting Emerging Co-operatives, the five-year<br />

progress report published by Co-operative Alternatives,<br />

helped to provide a clearer picture on how co-operatives<br />

have sprung up in a variety of sectors and the needs that<br />

they now have to continue to prosper and develop. This<br />

also confirmed the view that a co-operative development<br />

agency in Northern Ireland is essential to the emerging<br />

co-operative sector.<br />

of Ireland, replaced the previously existing single<br />

market SEM and went live on 1 October <strong>2018</strong>. On one<br />

hand, this will have undefined consequences on<br />

market linked electricity prices under a Brexit scenario,<br />

but on the other hand, this is a decision motivated by<br />

the necessity for sharing and optimising resources<br />

between north and south with the view of benefiting<br />

the economies of both subregions despite the looming<br />

events. The farming sector is also concerned about what<br />

would be our future relationship with Europe in general<br />

and not only for the cross-border activities that they<br />

perform daily. However, the biggest impact in <strong>2018</strong> in<br />

Northern Ireland on the co-operative sector has been<br />

the absence of a national executive; without a devolved<br />

Assembly in Northern Ireland for almost two years,<br />

important decisions on budgets and priorities for the<br />

economy of the region have not been taken.<br />

What were the key issues co-ops have campaigned<br />

for this year?<br />

The main event for co-ops in Northern Ireland has<br />

been the migration of the registration function, until<br />

now performed within the local Department for the<br />

Economy, to the Financial Conduct Authority in London.<br />

This brought the introduction of an annual fee based on<br />

assets (which was beforehand balanced out by higher<br />

administration and registration fees compared to the rest<br />

of the UK) but also triggered the long-waited final updates<br />

to the Co-operatives and Community Benefit Society Act<br />

(2016) Northern Ireland.<br />

With Brexit due to take place next year, how<br />

can co-ops in Northern Ireland prepare for the<br />

challenges ahead?<br />

Great uncertainty is dominating the years ahead.<br />

Brexit will undoubtedly change trading and relationships<br />

on this island. The situation on the ground is complex<br />

and interdependent. For instance, the new electricity<br />

market I-SEM or Integrated Single Electricity Market,<br />

the wholesale market for electricity for the island<br />

30 Review <strong>2018</strong>

Africa: Dr Chiyoge Sifa<br />

Regional director, International Co-operative Alliance-Africa<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for you and your organisation?<br />

<strong>2018</strong> was a year of mixed feelings, both to me<br />

personally and for our organisation. We started the year<br />

on a high note emanating from good results – both<br />

financial and benefits-wise – to our members, which<br />

resulted in increased membership for the region. We<br />

also had a new chairperson for our Africa Ministerial<br />

Co-operative Conference and for the regional board.<br />

However, three days after the by-elections which saw our<br />

long serving regional board chairperson, Stanley Muchiri,<br />

retire, he passed on. This was a big loss both to our<br />

organisation and to myself as we lost a great co-operator<br />

and wonderful mentor.<br />

How did co-ops in the Africa region make<br />

a difference in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

The big difference they made was to serve their<br />

members better with limited resources and renewed<br />

impetus. As we offered<br />

more knowledge-sharing<br />

experiences and capacity<br />

building to our members,<br />

this in turn was translated<br />

into improved services.<br />

How are co-ops<br />

preparing for the<br />

challenges ahead?<br />

We have learned a lot<br />

through these past years.<br />

We have a new vision<br />

anchored in our Abuja <strong>2018</strong> Declaration and we do<br />

believe that the conclusions and recommendations from<br />

our Regional Assembly and Africa Ministerial Co-operative<br />

Conference are robust and able to make final strides to our<br />

turnaround strategy for the continent.<br />

Australia: Melina Morrison<br />

Chief executive of the Australian Business Council for Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM)<br />

How was <strong>2018</strong> for co-ops and mutuals in Australia?<br />

<strong>2018</strong> was a great year for co-operative and mutual<br />

businesses in Australia. After 2017, which saw the<br />

demutualisation of Murray Goulburn, one of our largest<br />

co-ops, the sector has seen a resurgence in <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

We have seen significant progress in the flagship<br />

project to implement legislative reform allowing mutual<br />

businesses to raise external capital. We came tantalisingly<br />

close to seeing the legislation enter parliament this year,<br />

and hope that this will be finalised in early 2019.<br />

In another first, the BCCM developed the first set<br />

of bespoke governance principles for Australian co-ops<br />

and mutuals.<br />

How did co-ops make a difference in <strong>2018</strong>?<br />

There has been a resurgence in interest in the<br />

business model to support regional and rural<br />

communities, especially in the delivery of local jobs,<br />

a sustainable local economy and provision of health<br />

and other vital services in thinner markets. Organisations<br />

working in social services have also continued to thrive to<br />

support vulnerable people. Co-operatives have emerged<br />

as a new business model for consumers trying to exercise<br />

choice and control with personalised budgets for disability<br />

and aged care.<br />

How can co-ops prepare<br />

for the challenges ahead?<br />

Co-operative and<br />

mutual businesses are<br />

ideally placed to address<br />

future challenges. As a<br />

business model that takes<br />

a long-term, sustainable<br />

view, they will be able<br />

to weather challenges in<br />

the domestic and global<br />

economic environments.<br />

Review <strong>2018</strong> 31

32 Review <strong>2018</strong>

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