Our history - Cwmpas

Our history

We have a long history of supporting co-operatives and social enterprises at Cwmpas. Here are the key events that led us to where we are today…

Our history

Key milestones


Cwmpas was established in 1982 by the Wales TUC as the Wales Co-operative Centre to provide business support to co-operatives in Wales.


Cwmpas helped establish the first credit union in Wales in Rhydyfelin. It also started providing advice to trade unions and their members about employee ownership.


Tower Colliery became the largest employee-owned company in Wales with support from Cwmpas. Cwmpas also helped to set up the UK’s first credit union based on an NHS Trust, in Bridgend.


Cwmpas began working with social enterprises in Wales and became the first Chair of the All-Wales Social Enterprise Network.


Cwmpas also gained support from the Welsh Assembly Government for a significant credit union development and grant fund initiative, which then became a flagship project under the new European structural funds programme.


Cwmpas brings together the Communities First Support Network to support the work of the Communities First programme.


The Coalfields Regeneration Trust provided further funding for Cwmpas to administer the Debt Redemption and Money Advice Scheme to protect those most at risk from doorstep lenders.


Cwmpas secures European Objective One funding to continue work in developing co-operatives and leads to a major expansion of Cwmpas.


The Welsh Assembly Government’s Social Enterprise Strategy for Wales formally recognises the role which social enterprises and co-operatives play in economic development.


Communities@One is launched by the Communities Directorate of the Welsh Assembly Government. Cwmpas wins the contract to deliver this digital inclusion initiative.


Cwmpas launches a Fair Trade project working with businesses across Wales to show them the benefits of adopting a Fair Trade policy, following funding from the Welsh Assembly Government.


Cwmpas wins contracts to deliver the Social Enterprise Support Project and the Welsh Assembly Government’s digital inclusion project, Communities 2.0.


2010 saw a change of Chief Executive. After a total of 18 years with Cwmpas, Simon Harris left to become Director of Wales at Business in the Community.

He was replaced by Derek Walker, coming from Director of External Affairs at the Big Lottery Fund.


Cwmpas launches the Business Succession and Consortia Project. The project employed a specialist team to promote employee ownership to exiting business owners as well as promoting co-operation within the private sector in the form of co-operative consortia.


Huw Lewis, Welsh Government Minister for Housing, Regeneration & Heritage announces that he wants to see homes built in Wales using a co-operative framework.

The Co-operative Housing project is launched to increase the supply of co-operative housing in Wales. Pioneer schemes are established in Cardiff, Carmarthen and Newport.


2014 saw the publishing of a report of the Welsh Commission on Co-operatives and Mutuals. The Commission was established following a proposal from Cwmpas.

Cwmpas works with Welsh Government to ensure that the emerging Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act includes reference to and support of co-operatives and social enterprises

Cwmpas moved its head office from Cardiff to Caerphilly


Cwmpas is awarded the contract for a new digital inclusion programme called Digital Communities Wales.

Cwmpas secures funding from the European Union and Welsh Government to develop Social Business Wales, a £15m project to deliver growth support to social enterprises, co-operatives and employee-owned businesses across Wales.


Cwmpas develops Care to Co-operate, a project to support people to come together to plan and discuss their own care and support needs. The project aims to help people set up their own co-operatives to help deliver care and support.

Cwmpas launches Community Shares Wales, an innovative project to help communities finance new projects using community shares. The project provides technical guidance on developing schemes that could raise equity finance from members of the community.


Cwmpas secures £3m to develop a new start business support service as part of Social Business Wales.

Launch of new commercial products Social Business Connect and the Social Enterprise Academy Wales.

Launch of new digital inclusion programme with particular focus on health called Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being.


In co-operation with social enterprises and social enterprise support agencies and with the support of Welsh Government, Cwmpas launches the Transforming Wales Through Social Enterprise vision and action plan.

Digital Communities Wales reaches the final 3 in the Digital Leaders 100 awards in the category Digital Skills or Inclusion Initiative of the Year for their tablet loan scheme during the COVID-19 crisis.


Social Leaders Cymru Programme Launches in Wales to assist recovery of the Third Sector in Wales.

Cwmpas celebrates the 250th birthday of Welsh Co-operative visionary Robert Owen.

Therapeutic Activities Group wins the Social Enterprise of the Year Award in the 2021 Social Business Wales Awards.

Cwmpas publishes its 2020/21 census of the Social Business sector in Wales, which estimates that the sector includes up to 2,309 businesses and up to 56,000 employees, generating £3.1–3.8 billion in value.


The Welsh Government’s digital inclusion programme, Digital Communities Wales, is extended until 2025

Cwmpas hosts Senedd’s Cross Party Group for Co-operatives and Mutuals.