A Guest Post from Ed Mayo
Ed Mayo is Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, the national trade body that campaigns for co-operation and works to promote, develop and unite co-operative enterprises. He is also a Trustee of The Co-operative College. From 2003 to 2009, he was Chief Executive of the National Consumer Council (NCC), merging this with two other bodies to found a new statutory consumer champion, Consumer Focus, in 2008. Ed Mayo has also co-written a book, ‘Consumer Kids’ with Agnes Nairn on marketing to children, published by Constable in 2009.
In our economy, it probably comes as no surprise that co-operative buying, whether informal with friends or crowd-sourcing online, is a growing trend among consumers.
Our research shows that almost 20% of people are buying co-operatively and with household budgets under such a squeeze, we are finding more interest than ever in co-operative models of business.
But, if only 20% of people are buying together, that means that the majority of people in the country aren’t yet seeing the benefits of co-operative buying.
Community buying involves groups of individuals combining their buying power to purchase goods or services together and get better deals from shops and other suppliers. It can help businesses spread their overheads and in turn lowers costs for consumers and the ‘Buy Better Together Challenge’ is encouraging more and more people to think collectively to combine their buying power.
Whether it’s local residents pooling their resources to generate renewable energy, carers clubbing together to save money on specialist healthcare equipment for the home or neighbours saving money on quality ethical products by buying them together, there are lots of ways for people to buy together and get a better deal.
Co-operatives UK already has some innovative examples – The Energy Saving Co-operative, True Food Co-operative, Ecohost, to name a few.
We hope this challenge inspires more and more people to see how combining their buying power can help their pocket and their local community.
The challenge is now open to applications from individuals as well as new or existing groups in the public, voluntary or business sectors.
The ‘Buy Better Together Challenge’ £60k pot will go towards training and mentoring for stand out projects and includes £15k for the overall winner.
These will be chosen by our expert panel of judges, which includes Tim Campbell MBE – the winner of the first series of BBC TV’s, The Apprentice and CEO of Bright Ideas Trust – who was on the Queen’s honours list just last week.
Applications are open from today, 21 February 2012, to 15 May 2012. In June, shortlisted applicants will be asked to prepare a detailed business plan for the final stage, aided by a business mentor if they need it. And the overall winner of the prize will be announced in November 2012.
We are delighted to be working in partnership with BIS on the ‘Buy Better Together Challenge’ to recognise and inspire new models for buying together and I am really looking forward to seeing what innovative and inspiring ideas we receive!
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