Inspiring co-operative enterprise through education

West Lothian Council/Bright Business Partnership and CETS

This innovative project was designed by the 3 organisations to give senior students an insight into setting up and running their own co-operative through a 2-day business start up programme. The participating students were encouraged to view their business as a real solution to employment on leaving school, either full time or as a method of self support for tertiary education.

Teams of 6 pupils from 5 secondary schools across West Lothian attended the 2-day session where they were introduced to the co-operative business model, supported in fleshing out their own business ideas, given direction in writing a business plan as well as suggestions of where they may be able to find start up funding. Other West Lothian organisations such as Business Gateway and Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust were enlisted to support the students in their bid to start up their own co-operative. At the end of the second day, a team of experts listened to the teams' business ideas, looked at their cash flows and offered advice on how to take their ideas forward.

Co-operative start-up event

Throughout the year the groups will be offered mentors from co-operative businesses to ensure they have every opportunity to get their business up and running.

At the end of the school year, they will regroup for a half day at Scotmid's head offices in Newbridge to share their experiences and a team of invited co-operators will assess the actual and potential impact their businesses may have on their communities, whether or not their business is environmentally friendly and also to see if they have made any profit. They will also be judged on their knowledge and understanding of co-operative values and principles and how their businesses have put them into practice.

It is hoped that some of them will have a potentially viable business up an running and can choose to continue with it, post school. We will give updates when we have them, on our blog or twitter.