A change of location
The South Birmingham Co-op group is a group of Co-operators who meet in South Birmingham, roughly every quarter. By coincidence, a Co-operative conference was occurring in Birmingham at approximately the same time as our next planned meet up. We decided to take this opportunity to tie in with the 20-20 Vision Conference hosted by Co-op Futures. We moved our next meeting from our usual, beloved home at Artefact to the Beeches, which was the venue of the conference.
A potential new Co-op for Birmingham
Excitingly, the group was joined by a new person, who was keen to learn about the Co-operative model. His name was Vik and his idea was to set up a reusable nappy Co-operative in Birmingham. This is a relatively new concept. There are a few dotted around the country, but the model is quite untested. Vik is in the process of deciding which ownership model for his new venture. A potential name for this Co-op could be “Medi Co-op.” As a group we talked about the pros and cons of the various different organisational structures. There are strengths and weaknesses to all of them and the Co-operative model is not for every organisation. Even within the Co-operative model itself, there are a variety of different options, from quite simple Worker Co-op models to very complex Multi Stakeholder Co-ops. Vik said that he would take our advice on board and would keep us updated with the progress that his idea has.
Discussion of the current climate
Once we had finished discussing Vik’s new adventurous Co-op proposal, we talked about a few unco-operative business models, including the likes of Uber and Deliveroo. The tech involved in these kinds of organisations could, and is being used for Co-operative purposes. Tom showed an example of a Co-op software app that could be applied to Vik’s concept.
The Co-operative difference
We left the social feeling like we had exchanged ideas and that we could do more positive action in the future. A Co-operative based on reusable nappies could be successful in Birmingham. There is growing awareness of the scale of waste in the nappy industry. If this were to be successful it could make a big impact on reducing waste. We will keep in touch and hopefully be able to help Vik on his journey to becoming a Co-op. When we meet in the next quarter, we will discuss this idea, amongst many other Co-op projects.