The Oxford Cycle Workshop Training centre (OCW Training) hosts workshops, events and training programmes, with a strong community focus. It works with schools, as well as organisations such as the Youth Offending Service and Asylum Welcome.
OCW Training was set up in December 2008, after the success of the Oxford Cycle Workshop, a workers' co-operative which rescues and rebuilds abandoned bicycles. The workshop already offered some training, and Dan Harris, a director, and other OCW members wanted to build on this. Jonty Semper was invited by members of OCW to help set up the new venture.
"We decided to set up this type of co-operative because we wanted a way to empower the community,” Jonty says. "We wanted to run a business in which the community could become fully involved. The aims of the organisation reflect the needs of the community that owns us."
Community investment only works where there is a strong and cohesive community backing the enterprise. This means devising strategies to reach out to the community and engage them in the enterprise. Oxford Cycle Workshop Training has placed membership at the heart of its business model. It charges members an annual subscription fee in return for which members receive a number of benefits, including free access to the cycle repair workshop one evening per week. In its first year of operations it had attracted more than 220 members, a figure it aims to more than double in 2010. Currently, members are
only required to invest £1 in share capital, but, now that it has a solid membership
platform, Oxford Cycle Workshop Training is planning to ask members to invest
significantly more in order to finance its future development plans.
Oxford Cycle Workshop Training currently has a “membership offer” which is not intended to raise investment capital. Instead, prospective members are asked for £9, of which £1 is share capital and £8 the annual subscription fee.