Community Economic Development/Building Resilient Communities

Our aim is to build resilient communities able to carry out positive actions that will enhance the wellbeing of their communities and those that live, work and play there.

Identifying common needs.

We will work with those that can demonstrate that they have identified common needs and who are prepared to work co-operatively with others in order to involve the community in providing practical shared solutions.

Keeping wealth local & investing in community development

The 'sticky pound' or retaining and recirculating trading profits within the economy means that communities can benefit rather than wealth leaving the area. 

Working with Social Enterprises

Often it is just a small group of people or even a single social entrepreneur that has the foresight and confidence to create new community enterprises to tackle community needs. 

A significant difference between social entrepreneurs and more traditional ones is that the social entrepreneur is not merely driven by profit.  Of course all enterprises do have to make a profit in order to ​survive but in a social enterprise that profit is either reinvested into growing the enterprise and its services or it is used for supporting the community interests.  

Most Social Enterprises within the UK are registered using the Community Interest Company (CIC) format and have to clearly state (and continue to abide by) their community purpose.

It IS also possible for a CIC to use a special set of documents that make it a Co-operative CIC. 

For more on Co-operatives see below.

We work very closely with Social Enterprise Link (Wessex) CIC which is the infrastructure organisation representing & supporting Social Enterprises throughout the Wessex area of mid-southern England. For more information about SEL and a membership application form please use our menu links.

Developing and working with Co-operatives

Co-operatives are very special types of social enterprises.

Co-operatives take many structural and governance forms whether they are Consumer Co-ops owned and governed by their shoppers, Worker Co-ops owned and governed by their work force, Housing Co-ops owned and controlled by tenants, or maybe farmers, builders, merchants etc using a Co-operative as a means to share equipment, organise joint buying or joint marketing.

Co-operatives have a choice of structure which might mean a Co-operative CIC under Company Law or a Society under Co-operative & Community Benefit Society Law. 

Therefore you should seek specialise advice from those that work with these structures before deciding which form is best for your needs. 

Community Empowerment Ltd are specialists in forming and supporting Co-operatives and so if you want to explore the Co-operative options please contact us (main menu).

It is very important that those wishing to genuinely maximise community 'buy in' and participation in a community economic enterprise should give full consideration to using one or other Co-operative form as Co-operative can offer economic returns to their members (dividend) as well as directly benefiting the community at large. 

Please note that the Co-operative & Community Benefit Societies Act introduces the option of another kind of Society. Community Benefit Societies which whilst not returning a share of profits to members can be used for situations such as community owned facilities such as pubs, swimming pools, solar energy farms, etc. These are usually setup with a community share offer which pays interest to members.

Co-ops (and in some cases Community Benefit Societies) should  be recognised as an alternative to voluntary organisations and charities.

They are very different!       They should not be confused!

This is because, whether intentional or not, charities and voluntary organisations encourage dependency whereas the aim of Co-operatives is to encourage mutual-self-help.

Like CIC type social enterprises, Co-operatives trade and should not be grant dependent.

Indeed as already mentioned Co-operatives can earn economic as well as community benefit for their members.

There are other advantages to Co-operatives as participation gives a degree of control and encourages responsibility. In turn these improve confidence.

For all of these advantageous reasons, we would encourage, wherever practical, that those engaged in the governance of CIC type social enterprises give full consideration to conversion to a Co-operative CIC.

Wherever the aim is to improve community empowerment, increase confidence and genuinely involve communities in understanding and

solving their problems, Co-operatives should be recognised as the preferred alternative to the 'doing it for them' approach which  perpetuate .dependency.

For the above reasons we continue to encourage Central Government, Local Authorities and other support funders to engage with and commission support from organisations that specialise in developing and supporting social enterprises, especially Co-operatives. 

In mid-southern England this would be Community Empowerment Ltd and its partner organisations but if you submit our enquiry form from another region we will happily pass it on for you.

A great deal of potential community development is missed because of funding being directed to organisations that specialise in the 'doing it for you' approach. Financial support for Charity and Voluntary Organisations IS of course needed but funders should recognise that is very different from supporting community empowerment in the ways outlined above.

Resilience - people supporting each other through mutual-self-help

As a charity we do not undertake projects to make an individual wealthy but we will support individuals that want to improve the wealth of their community.

We do offer projects to support employability.

These include work experience opportunities with established social enterprises.