Co-operative Assistance Network Limited

The CAN curriculum vitae


CAN is launched. Its mission is “to assist the development of co-operatives and social enterprises”.

Essex County Council enters into a contract with CAN to provide co-operative development services.


Training for people aiming to establish new enterprises is set up with an adult community college. This collaborative approach is repeated regularly with colleges, business and technology centres.


CAN starts a continuing theme assisting development and piloting of new training – the Co-operative Certificate of Business Administration.


CAN launches programmes to enable women considering a return to work to examine their options and for women already in work to challenge the “glass ceiling” and enter management roles.


CAN carries out its first project with disabled people to create employment opportunities – CAN begins working with social firms.


CAN provides consultancy to a successful worker buy-out of a failing manufacturing business, beginning CAN's work on buyouts.


A study identifies support needs and potential for growth of a local social enterprise sector. A funding bid to the (then) dti brings funding for development of an innovative training programme addressing these needs.


CAN and Suffolk County Council collaborate to launch SUCCESS (Suffolk Co-operative and Community Enterprise Support Service). The launch conference is a sell-out. Within months new co-operatives and community enterprises are launched.


Housing co-operatives in Brighton commission a training package on democratic management of housing co-operatives.

CAN is part of the team that originates and pilots the “Training For Growth” programme for small enterprises addressing growth and change.


CAN carries out a feasibility study and business planning exercise on behalf of a Regeneration Partnership that results in the establishment of a craft-workers co-operative. This marks the beginning of increasing CAN involvement with regeneration projects.

CAN are consultants in the set up of East Anglia Food Link, increasing involvement in rural issues and sustainable agriculture.


Greenwich CDA become CAN’s one hundredth customer when CAN takes on delivery of a part of their social enterprise start-up project.

CAN is part of a trans-European partnership to develop a training and support resource for people establishing social firms (Social Enterprise Employment Development).


CAN develops the Credit Union variant of the Co-operative Certificate of Business Administration and pilots it as part of a successful project to establish a new Credit Union in Hertfordshire.


On behalf of Social Firms UK, CAN develops a regional support organisation and obtains its first project funding.

CAN provides business planning and management systems consultancy to Greenwich Credit Union, one of the first to achieve registration with the (then) FSA.


CAN launches the Social Enterprise Start-Up Programme, accredited by the Open College Network (OCN), to empower social entrepreneurs to establish sustainable social enterprises.


CAN is a founder member of South-East Co-operative Support, the first consortium of co-operative development bodies in the UK, as the first step in developing such consortia across regions and trade sectors.


CAN completes a feasibility study into the provision of a Social Enterprise Business Incubator in Bournemouth.

CAN carries out research and analysis to produce a policy recommendation for a Social Enterprise Support Delivery System for the West of England.


Mapping exercises establish the extent and nature of the social economy in South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset. A Development Needs Analysis of the Bristol Co-operative Sector is carried out. Using this benchmark study, CAN analyses and outlines how an “excellent service” can be created to meet these needs.

Community Development Workers and local champions in Southampton receive Introduction to Social Enterprise Development Training to enable them to recognise potential for social enterprise development and work with local groups through the early stages of the development process.

Business Link commissions CAN to deliver support to new-start co-operatives and social enterprises in Dorset.


A 4-day variant of the Social Enterprise Start Up training programme is delivered to clients of Business Link across Dorset, Hampshire, and Isle of Wight, with Master Classes in Funding & Investment Acquisition and Social Accounting.

As a member of South East Co-operative Support, CAN delivers training and consultancy funded by South East England Development Agency and European Social Fund, a programme that is re-funded for the following two years.


Business Links’ consultants across South East England attend CAN's Introduction to Social Enterprise training.

CAN is engaged by Co-operatives UK to work on production of the Worker Co-operative Code of Good Governance.

CAN provides professional development training piloting the OCN accredited Co-operative and Social Enterprise Development Worker Training Programme.


CAN provides development assistance to co-operatives across South East England through a project funded by the Co-operative Fund bringing a glowing report from the external assessor and helping to develop a model of high productivity, low cost service provision.

CAN develops a training programme to assist people with moderate and severe learning difficulties to participate in business governance and management decisions.

Governance Training programmes in London receive standing ovations from paying participants.


CAN becomes a key component of the delivery system as the Co-operative Enterprise Hub is launched.

CAN develops Quality Systems and Quality Auditing functions for regional consortia.


CAN moves into Direct Provision of Services such as Company Secretary services, accounting, preparation of year end accounts, personnel administration and representation at Industrial Tribunal.


CAN becomes an Open Source organisation and begins release of its tools to other Co-operative Development Bodies. These are rapidly taken up across the UK.


CAN designs the Co-operative City concept and manages the delivery of a pilot project in Southampton.

Alternative Energy Co-operatives benefit from CAN research into VAT, clawing back tens of thousands in taxes.


CAN becomes a Credit Union Development Body providing a full range of support services to Credit Unions.

Agreement with chartered accountants delivers expert auditing service for Co-operative Societies and Community Benefit Societies.

Financial projection tools for alternative energy co-operatives are developed.


CAN helps to establish Development Co-operative (the national consortium of co-operative development bodies) and the Credit Union Support Organisation UK – initiatives which will have a significant impact on development of the social economy in years to come.

CAN is contracted to research the resources and links and author the advice and guidance content of the new Social Business Wales web site.


CAN begins delivery of training and consultancy services to enable social enterprises to expand and enhance their services and source investment within the framework of the Big Potential programme and for voluntary sector infrastructure organisations to develop within the framework of the Big Assist Programme.

CAN is accepted as a Technical Support Provider for the Community Economic Development Programme.


CAN is approved as Preferred Providers to Co-operatives UK for The Hive Business Support Programme.

CAN is appointed Consultant Organisation to 3-year, £11m Social Business Wales support programme.

CAN provides experts to become non-executive Directors, Treasurers and Secretaries of other Co-ops and Social Enterprises.


CAN provides consultancy to a City Council on employee involvement strategies.

CAN becomes an accredited provider of consultancy services under the Bright Ideas Programme working with start-up Community Businesses to develop plans, acquire funding and benefit from Community Asset Transfers of buildings and land. One particular client acquires £1.26M in grant finance.


CAN becomes consultants to several Community Led Housing initiatives and Community Land Trusts helping to develop innovative approaches to the provision of affordable homes.

CAN provides support to a cohort of social enterprises receiving funding from the Reach Fund to improve their investment readiness.


CAN team member becomes accredited Community Shares Practitioner and CAN begins work supporting Community Share Issues.


CAN develops and delivers on-line versions of some of its training programmes to keep services flowing despite the pandemic.


CAN was called in to support the development of a community share offer for Zion Community Art Space to purchase the building that it was leasing.


CAN team member becomes accredited Community Led Housing Advisor.

CAN launches a subscription-based method of buying in the range of CAN services to provide security of supply and budgeting certainty for its client enterprises.

Crowdfunding platform Fundsurfer described working with CAN on its first community share offer, raising funds for Stoke Croft Land Trust, as a “brilliant experience”.


Download the CAN c.v.

Co-operative Assistance Network Limited

is a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014

 No. 30714R 

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