. Introduction

Co-operative Development * - the development and support of co-operative and mutual enterprises and organisations in all their forms - only makes sense if co-operation itself makes sense. So, what, in a few short words, is the essence of co-operation?


Co-operative Support Organisations (CSOs) are any organisations which seek to support the establishment and growth of co-operative and mutual enterprises in all their forms. Most CSOs are self-financing and charge fees where they can. CDAs are a form of CSO funded largely by Local Authorities and which do not therefore generally charge for their services.

** see Seven Co-operative Principles

……..about Gross National Product

"....it counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our forests and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm produced and the cost of nuclear warheads, and armoured cars for police who fight riots in our streets.

Yet it does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate, or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country.

It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile."

Quote from RF Kennedy

"Make Gentle the Life of this World" - Max Kennedy


This publication is the culmination of three years of work. It arose out of the authors’ perceptions of the Co-operative Development aspect of the co-operative movement. The perception was that the provision for co-operative development - the establishment and support of co-operative endeavour in its many forms throughout Europe - is inconsistent and variable in quality, and that the sharing of good practice and the avoidance of duplication is minimal. The purpose of this pack is to provide anyone wishing to engage in co-operative development in Europe with a step by step account of how to go about setting up a Co-operative Development Agency based on the experience and best practice of existing UK CDAs and their European equivalents.

The Project - "SISU ADAPT" - set out to extract this experience and best practice from UK CDAs and other forms of CSO (Co-operative Support Organisation) and to digest it into a practical manual. This manual will hopefully serve as the basis for some uniformity of co-operative development provision in the years to come.

Conceptual work began in 1996, but it began in earnest during the Development Phase of the ADAPT Project in the last half of ‘97. Two years of Operational Phase followed, with the final product being produced in the autumn of ‘99 for dissemination in the first half of 2000.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that, at the outset, it was envisaged that the manual would be printed in ring binder format and circulated through the postal system. At that time, the concern was that the information contained therein, although relevant at the time of publication, would almost certainly be out of date within a very short space of time. The plan was to have a more up to date version on the WEB and that the information retained there would be upgraded on a regular basis.

HOWEVER, progress with regard to Internet technology within the short lifetime of this project has been so marked that it became evident that the most sensible course of action would be to go straight to Web production. This, with facility for local printout by any and all concerned with co-operative development wherever they might be, should mean greater accessibility for users and easier maintenance by authors. A short print run of the original document will be undertaken, but the "real" Start Up Pack will exist on the web site.

Many people were involved in this from a variety of organisations, but the principle contributors to the final text and the associated outputs were:

  • Martin Strube - Luton Borough Council and CDA Luton
  • Jenny Smith - Co-operative Solutions Ltd
  • Charlie Cattell - Consultants & Training
  • Tim Blanc - Co-opportunity Ltd
  • Mark Hitchins - Co-opportunity Ltd
  • Simon Jacobson - The Accountancy Co-op
  • Jon McColl - CDA Tower Hamlets

With special thanks to Sue Fitz-Patrick (Luton Borough Council and CDA Luton) and Penny Goodyear (Luton Borough Council) who held a very complex funding regime together, to Shirley Zissis who arrived late on the scene but still managed to get a grip on some of the document handling problems, and to Andy Humphries (Luton Borough Council) who managed get it all up on to the web site.

In addition, the following organisations were interviewed and/or offered comment and/or source materials.

CDA Humberside, CDA Dorset, CDA Isle of Wight & SE Hants, Southampton Area CDA, West Midlands Enterprise, Northern Ireland CDA, Co-operative Assistance Network Ltd, Anthony Jensen - freelance, Avon CDA, Durham CDA, Devon CDA, Coventry & Warwickshire CDA, Lambeth CDA, Greenwich CDA, Harlow CDA, Northamptonshire CDA, Lancashire CDA, Black Country CDA, Cambridge CDA, Oxfordshire CDA, Sunderland Common Ownership Enterprise Resource Centre (SCOERC), Wales Co-operative Centre, Norrbotten CDA (Sweden), FINRECO (Italy), Upstart, the Co-operative College, ICOF & ICOM, and Total Coverage Ltd who provided the original artwork.

This manual represents an attempt to influence outcomes by design.

"William Ophuls ("Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity ") points out that planning and design both attempt to achieve real world outcomes by influencing nature. The subtle but important distinction is that:

"...planning refers to the attempt to produce the outcome by actively managing the process, whereas design refers to the attempt to produce the outcome by establishing criteria to govern the process so that the desired result will occur more or less automatically without further human intervention."

- "Design is critical." Email, 6/10/98, Michael Linton

+ + + + +