A Guide to Setting up a Co-operative Business

Co-operative businesses are democratic, member-owned trading businesses. They are usually formed by groups of people with shared goals or specific ethical reasons for wanting to set up a business together. They usually operate as for-profit businesses, although any profits remain under the control of the members and are not distributed to external shareholders. Occasionally social enterprises, community projects and not-for-profit organisations are established as co-operatives.

As with any other business, operating successfully as a co-operative requires a high level of commitment, a professional approach to management and a good understanding of your legal responsibilities.

This factsheet explains how co-operative businesses work and how to set one up. It also includes details of legislation affecting co-operatives, information on support and funding available, as well as hints and tips and sources of further information.

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