West Mids businesses to network at co-operative lunch

West Midlands business people, interested in finding out more about the co-operative enterprise model, are being invited to a networking lunch at the banqueting suite of Birmingham Council House on Friday, March 23.

Guest speakers Kevin Rye (left) and Len Wardle (right)

Guest speakers Kevin Rye (left) and Len Wardle (right)

High profile guest speakers will include Len Wardle, Chair of the Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest consumer co-operative society, which is owned not by shareholders but by over six million members.

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, alongside The Co-operative Bank, Insurance, Funeralcare, Pharmacy, Motors, E-Electrical, Legal Services and Clothing.  It was the first supermarket to supply Fairtrade products in 1992.

Mr Wardle will be talking about the 2012 UN International Year of Co-operatives, and what the year means for the co-operative economy in the UK – which is now worth £33 billion per annum and has outperformed the British economy as a whole, growing by 21 percent, since the start of the credit crunch in 2008.

The second speaker is Kevin Rye, Network Development Manager at Supporters’ Direct, which promotes sustainable sports clubs based on supporters’ involvement and community ownership, and helps fans to form their own trusts.

Since 2000 Supporters’ Direct has aided in the creation of more than 160 Supporters’ Trusts, including AFC Telford United and Telford Tigers Ice Hockey Club in the West Midlands.

Among the guests will be the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Anita Ward. Exhibitors include Midlands Co-operative Society, The Future Melting Pot, Birmingham Co-operative Housing Services, The Co-operative Group Central and Eastern Region, Co-operative Energy, Co-operatives West Midlands, Midcounties Co-operative Society, The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, Co-operative Futures and Supporters’ Direct.

The networking event is organised by Co-operatives West Midlands, the representative body of co-operative enterprise in the region and supported by Midlands Co-operative Society, Midcounties Co-operative Society, The Heart of England Co-operative Society and The Co-operative Enterprise Hub.  The Co-operative Enterprise Hub financially supports people to start up a co-operative with business advice – visit www.co-operative.coop/enterprisehub.

Anyone interested in attending this free event, which is by invitation only (limited places left), should contact Jenny de Villiers at [email protected] or on 0777 370 5552.

For more information about the co-operative business model, and how to start a co-operative, log on to www.cooperatives-wm.coop