The UK co-operative movement has welcomed Rose Marley as the new chief executive of Co-operatives UK. She will be taking up the top role at the country’s apex body in January 2021.
Ms Marley joins the organisation from Manchester-based SharpFutures, where she is currently founding chief executive. The social enterprise supports diverse, young talent into creative, digital and tech industries. She also worked with Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, to lead a pilot campaign improving local travel opportunities and raising aspiration for young people in Manchester, called OurPass.
She is currently chair of the Social Enterprise Advisory Group for the Greater Manchester combined Authority, an RSA Fellow as well as an advisory board member for SODA (School of Digital Arts), chaired by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle and executive producer of Red Production Company & CEO of StudioCanal UK, Nicola Shindler.
The appointment comes at a time when there is an appetite for different ways of doing business, with co-ops and other forms of social enterprise well-placed in the post-Covid economy. Co-ops are resilient, with new co-op start-ups nearly twice as likely to survive the first crucial five years as other types of business.
“I couldn’t be more excited about joining Co-operatives UK,” said Ms Marley. “There has never been a more important moment to harness the enthusiasm of a new generation for a fairer way of doing business.
“The co-op movement has always been about disrupting the status quo, encouraging people to take responsibility for themselves and others. In the past it was ensuring there was ‘no chalk in our flour’, now it is about digital platforms, or plastic in our environment or a gig economy that denies young people the stability and training they need to establish themselves in life.”
She believes that co-operatives have “an historic opportunity” to merge co-operative principles with digital technology to create the sustainable, equitable platforms that society needs.
“Over the past 20 years as a social entrepreneur I have worked to increase social mobility, give our young people meaningful employment, a start, a chance in life,” she added. “I look forward to bringing that same spirit and energy to enthusing the next generation of co-operators about the world-changing potential of the co-operative movement.”
Ms Marley has worked closely with the Group over the years, most recently producing a community led YouTube Live event in lockdown which saw 100,000 people singing on their doorsteps with appearances from top musical artists, partnering with Manchester International Festival.
Rose will remain a board member of SharpFutures and the chair of the Social Enterprise Advisory Group for Greater Manchester Combined Authority.