Co-operative businesses in the East Midlands were given a substantial boost on 30 June following the regional launch of The Co-operative Enterprise Hub. The Co-operative Enterprise Hub is part of a multi-million pound UK wide dedicated support service to promote member-owned enterprises.
The Hub services will be delivered by a partnership of agencies across the East Midlands, led by The Co-operative and Social Enterprise Development Agency (CaSE-da), a long standing advice and training agency based in Leicester. The Co-operative Enterprise Hub launch was timed to coincide with the first ever Co-operatives Fortnight, which took place between 19 June and 3rd July, and provided the ideal opportunity for David Evans, vice chairman of the Enterprise Hub, to formally launch the service in the Leicester region.
The Co-operative Enterprise Hub provides a package of advice, training and finance to support new and existing entrepreneurs in the region and is backed by a £5million investment from The Co-operative Group – the world’s largest consumer-owned co-operative with 5.3 million members.
The open day was a huge success, providing a market place for co-operatives to display their wares and services and to eat food supplied by local co-operatives.
Guests heard from Just Services Ltd, an advocacy and support co-operative and Somali Development Services Ltd, a co-operative providing support to Somali and other recently arrived communities. Both businesses spoke of how setting up a co-operative had changed their lives and the lives of the people that they work with.
The Lord Mayor of Leicester, Cllr Colin Hall, gave a speech praising the co-operative movement and the dedication of those within it, saying that he was “inspired by the depth and range of services provided by co-operatives”.
Midlands Co-operative Society was on hand to provide tastings of Fair Trade products from chocolate to fruit juice to demonstrate the wide range of Fair Trade products that are now available. at the event were presented with gift bags, containing Fair Trade toiletries and foods, all of which were produced by co-operatives.
Dorothy Francis CEO of CaSE-da said; “The UK now has just under 5,000 jointly owned and democratically controlled co-op businesses providing jobs for 237,000 people. We want to help this to grow even more because we feel that co-operatives are good for, individuals and neighbourhoods, enabling them to take control of their lives and their communities by providing viable businesses that trade with ethical, social and environmental principles at their heart. Simply put, co-operatives change lives.”
The Lady Mayoress Eleanor Davidson, who attended the event with the Lord Mayor, said: “We were privileged to meet dedicated co-operatives and were inspired, impressed and, in some cases, deeply moved by their stories”