Business development and advice

Community co-operatives

Community co-operatives

By pooling their resources, knowledge and skills, communities can preserve local services or take advantage of an economic opportunity. Discover how working together in a co-operative can benefit your area.

What's a community co-operative?

A community co-operative is a democratic, values led business model in which community members come together to buy and run an asset for the benefit of local residents. Typical assets include wind turbines, hydro schemes, shops and pubs, among other things.

Setting up a community co-operative allows residents to safeguard essential public services or to develop exciting new opportunities with wider economic, social and environmental benefits.

Co-ops trade primarily for the benefit of their community. For this reason, they are accountable to and controlled by the community themselves.

Membership is open and voluntary, and people are encouraged to get involved – either by becoming a member, or by volunteering their time.

This type of co-operative business model is based on investment from community members who, as owners, are also involved in decision-making.

Income may be invested back into community projects or distributed among members.

Harlaw Hydro community co-operative
GlenWyvis Distillery community co-operative

Community co-operative case studies

Meet local groups in Scotland who are using a co-operative business model to enhance their communities and provide vital services.

The benefits of community ownership

Across Scotland, more places are realising that through community ownership they can be greener, friendlier, happier places to live. When businesses are owned and controlled by the communities they serve, all their efforts can go to making them the best they can be.

Free support is available to help you on your way – including:

  • Help to set up your organisation and develop your business plan
  • Building support for your idea
  • Raising money through community shares

Find out more in this video.

Crunchy Carrot community co-operative

How Co-operative Development Scotland can help

Co-operative Development Scotland is the arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies that supports business growth through employee ownership and co-operative business models.  

If your community would like to develop an opportunity, there is support available to help you get set up. 

Our services are available to all businesses and communities located in Scotland. Enquiries are welcome from organisations of any size, from any sector.

Strontian Primary School with rainbow

What kind of support is available?

We provide a free advisory service to help you set up a community co-operative. 

We can talk you through the various business models, help you assess your options and advise you on the structure of your co-op. We'll also supply the required legal documentation. 

Co-operative Development Scotland also work in partnership with other agencies, including Community Shares Scotland, The Plunkett Foundation and Co-operatives UK to provide additional support. 

We'd be happy to discuss your community enterprise and work with you to find a way forward.

Find out more about community collaboration

Discover how your community can pool resources, reduce costs and share risk to allow it to flourish.