Co-op Diversity Action

Cooperative Diversity ActionOlmec, in partnership with sister organisation Olmec Co-operative CIC hosts Co-operative Diversity Action offering strategies, resources and guidance to encourage more people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities to get involved in or establish co-operative enterprises.

Why do we need Co-operative Diversity Action?

In 2012 there were more than 800 million co-operative members in over 100 countries:

  • 20% of Kenyans are member of co-operatives
  • 23% of the Indian population belong to a co-operative
  • 2,200 registered co-operatives in Ghana.

The UK credit union movement was started by Jamaican immigrants who, on their arrival in Leicester in the early 1960’s, found that avenues of credit and savings were closed to them so they reacted by providing their own services. Today millions of people are members of credit unions in the UK but this initiative started in the back room of a terrace house by people who were dis-possessed and who sought to make a difference. How can we keep this co-operative spirit strong as we move through the 21st century and why do we not have more co-operatives from ethnic minority communities?

Who is it for?

  • Co-operative retail societies
  • Employee owned businesses
  • Large worker co-operatives
  • Large housing co-operatives
  • Public sector/service mutuals (foundation trusts, leisure trusts and co-operative schools)

Co-operative Diversity Action was originally set up in 2009 by Co‑operatives UK and chaired by Dorothy Francis before being hosted by Olmec in 2011.

What we can do

We can provide presentations and workshops on diversity in the sector and how Co-operative Diversity Action can help.

For more information, please contact John Mayford on 0207 688 8019 or email

Race Equality through economic and social justice