Peter Couchman is the Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation.

The Plunkett Foundation is the organisation which promotes and supports co-operative and social enterprises in rural communities both in the UK and internationally. It provides support, networks and knowledge which offers practical solutions for rural communities that helps to create thriving places where people live and work now and in the future.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Recession Busters

Feckenham Village Shop
The news that community owned village shops are opening at a recession busting rate of five a month for the last two months is starting to attract attention. This going up the down escalator achievement has been covered not only by the such newspapers as The Times. The Guardian and The People (including editorial) but was featured on Defra's website thanks to Simon Berry's excellent blog.

The real question is not what is happening, but why. That was clear when I visited three shops last week. Although Feckenham, Blockley and Longborough were very different, it seemed to me that they were all focused on two things:
1) Succeeding - they were completely focused on delivering a great service to their community. Not one of them even mentioned recession. They were all passionate about reaching the next stage of their development.
2) The price of failure - each knew that the stakes were high. As one put it "How many villages can you walk through and see the old shop, the old bakery, the old school etc." When rural communities fail, the impacts are felt for decades not months.

So this growth isn't a strange quirk. It's the result of a passion and focus that mainstream business would do well to learn from.

PS You can follow Plunkett updates on Twitter by following PeterCouchman

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