The Labour-led Islington Council...has taken the bold step of launching Cooperate Islington (CI), a development agency assigned the task of nurturing and investing in the development of new local co-operatives with the goal of kickstarting a co-operative economy in the borough.
Cooperate Islington is different for two reasons. First, the budget for investment, set initially at £75,000, is large for a project of this kind. Second, rather than following the current trend for tech co-operatives, the project will be focusing explicitly on the ‘foundational economy’ in areas such as childcare, adult social care, education, housing, utilities, and food supply, as well as traditional trades like plumbing and building. Lead partner Outlandish is a tech co-operative which mostly builds websites and data tools for charities, NGOs, trade unions, and academic institutions, and it is joined by five other partners: Hackney Co-operative Developments, Principle Six, Stir to Action, Co-operation Town, and Co-operatives UK.
The main goal of CI is to set up a long-term Co-operative Development Agency with its own governing body and membership, as well as providing grants from £500 to £20,000 to new or early-stage co-ops. The partners will provide mentoring and training, as well as access to an affordable workspace in Finsbury Park, run by Outlandish. CI also intend to go beyond co-operatives to work with ‘anchor institutions’ and other big buyers in the borough, too, to help make their supply chains more local and more co-operative—so that Islington co-ops will have a ready-made market to enter.
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