Baker Brown Associates, 31 Ambrose Road, Bristol BS8 4RJ UK

Tel 0117 9250824† email

Baker Brown associates

Serving the social economy

Community Shares

Our principal consultant, Jim Brown, has been investigating equity investment in co-operatives and community enterprises since 2002, when he was appointed a founder member of Co-operatives UKís Business Development Panel. In Jimís opinion, the lack of equity investment has been a major impediment to growth for many newly established co-operatives and community enterprises.


In 2003 Jim was asked by Co-operative Action to be the commissioning editor of a book called Co-operative Capital, which investigated new approaches to equity investment in co-operative and social enterprises. Published in 2004 the book identified 20 co-operatives and community enterprises that had each raised in excess of £100,000 in shares or bonds during the preceding 20 years.


Interest in equity investment was slow to develop, but, by 2008 it was becoming evident that a growing number of co-operative and community enterprises were turning to Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) legislation as a vehicle for raising equity investment. New research by Baker Brown Associates, published in Community Investment: Using IPS legislation, identified 39 IPSs that had raised more than £10,000 in share capital. More than half of these societies had been established in the preceding five years.


But the big breakthrough came in 2009, when the government funded an action research programme, jointly managed by Co-operatives UK and Locality, which became known as the Community Shares programme. Jim Brown was appointed the lead consultant, and was responsible for writing a range of publications and guidance, which are listed in the download section of this website, or can be obtained from This research programme concluded in 2011.


In October 2012 the government launched the Community Shares Unit, a successor initiative to the research programme, funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and based at Co-operatives UK. It is a partnership project with Locality. Jim Brown is the Strategic Adviser to the Unit.