Five co-operative trends for 2014

In the spirit of possibility, as much as prediction, here are five hopeful trends I see for 2014:

1. The emergence of ‘open co-operative’ models that blend the ideas of free (or libre) software, open knowledge and democratic social enterprise, for example in work for a new vision for the economy coming out of Ecuador.

2. The growing movement around the ‘commons‘, from community woodlands to new garden cities.

3. The welcome reinvention of the Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest co-op, with a patient forward plan for renewal before its AGM in May 2014.

4. The spread of community share offers to save enterprises that people care about – a rooted and democratic form of community capitalism.

5. Co-operatives Act – due in the Summer of 2014, the result of our campaigning and Treasury backing, this will be the first consolidated act for co-operative societies for around fifty years, setting legislation for coops on a new clean, modern footing.

Best wishes to all involved in fostering a more ethical economy in 2014. Let’s work together wherever we can.

4 thoughts on “Five co-operative trends for 2014

  1. I’m not sure why you need legislation.

    You have existing legal forms you can use already with some lateral thinking and the use of consensual agreements and prepay instruments which pre-date modern finance capital.

    Thanks, Chris. The answer is that we have up to eighteen or so existing bits of legislation for the society form, so this will bring it all together. At present, the different bits of law are in tension and it costs more to get advice on navigating through them, plus restricts what could be done because things aren’t always clear. That doesn’t mean to say that lateral thinking on legal form and unincorporated consensus won’t have a role to play, but it will make it easier to start a coop without them! Ed

    • I wasn’t thinking about variations on the Joint Stock Limited Liability Company.

      I was thinking of the use of a Company Limited by Guarantee (and LLPs for certain purposes) as a multi-stakeholder co-operative using a suitable ‘co-operative of co-operatives’ agreement. The innovation that distinguishes this from (say) the Somerset Rules IPS is that investors may become stakeholders through purchase at a discount of prepaid credit instruments returnable in production or revenues.

      This both aligns their interests with stakeholders and – more radically – gets rid of the need to borrow at interest.

      There’s nothing new about prepay: it’s the largely forgotten form of ‘open’ capital which pre-dates the forms debt and equity components of modern finance capital which came along about 300 years ago. It is re-emerging in use in wholesale markets, and I believe has massive potential in retail markets.

  2. Pingback: Open Co-operatives (1) | Joss Winn

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