European launch for world first framework to measure co-operative value

24 May 2023

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) has formally launched its world-first framework to measure the value of co-operative businesses in Europe.

Mutual Value Measurement© (MVM), developed by the BCCM in conjunction with Melbourne’s Monash University Business School and Warwick University Business School was launched overnight at an event at London’s The Shard.

“Valuing the positive impact of co-operatives and mutuals on their members, their customers, their communities, and wider society, is well overdue,” the Chief Executive Officer of the BCCM, Melina Morrison said.

“In fact, one of the greatest challenges for co-ops and mutuals is to be able to quantify and communicate the value they create, in ways that are understood by their stakeholders. We know there is a huge gap between the scale of the co-operative movement and the visibility and awareness of the business model. Nowhere is this more evident than in Australia where eight out of ten people are members of at least one co-operative or mutual and only three out of ten are aware of that fact.

“Mutual Value Measurement is a framework that makes sure none of the value co-ops create is hidden, overlooked, or ignored.”

Co-ops and mutuals are commercial enterprises established to serve the interests of their members rather than providing returns to investors. Their business purpose means it has been more difficult to measure their performance using traditional accounting standards.

“Against a backdrop of recessionary winds, inflation and a cost of living crisis that is seeing increasing numbers falling into poverty, with geo-political tensions ratcheting and the climate crisis sharpening to the predicted emergency, there’s not a minute to lose,” Ms Morrison said. “People are hungry for business models that ‘do business’ with purpose. Our business model is not only fit for the times, but also vital for the future.”

MVM was developed after a two-year research project led by Monash University and involving participation by 13 Australian co-operative and mutual businesses.

The framework helps co-ops and mutuals to measure their total value creation using six common criteria. These are commerciality; shaping markets; member relationships; community relationships; ecosystem and reciprocity; and lastly, mutual mindset.

“MVM is customised to our unique characteristics and does not require thought reshaping to fit a less aligned framework”, Ms Morrison said.

One of its most exciting applications will be to enhance ESG and sustainability reporting by co-ops and mutuals.

The BCCM is the national peak body representing Australia’s $34.4 billion co-operative and mutual sector.

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