CSS believes that co-operative businesses, particularly those set up by non-Irish nationals, need support services in establishing their business and in keeping them successful. CSS works to encourage and help immigrants to unlock their full potential by pooling their skills and resources to develop co-operative businesses in their chosen business sector. CSS provides business advice, training and publications for their members and raises awareness of the contribution of ethnic co-operatives in Ireland, and advocates for ethnic co-operatives with the government.
MEH Hair and Beauty Co-operative Society Limited Cork is one of the seven member co-operatives of CSS, Ireland. Established in 2009 and based in Cork, MEH is comprised of five African women who possessed several years of experience in hair and beauty back home before their migration into Ireland. They were previously conducting their business individually, a model that was fraught with difficulties. When they heard about the CSS they approached them with a request for help setting up a co-operative venture. The CSS took them through the entire process, ranging from initial formal training to the registration of the co-operative at the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and this ultimately gave birth to MEH Hair and Beauty Co-operative Society.
As with other enterprises, one very difficult issue with this co-operative is acquiring the start-up capital to enable them to commence fully. They have repeatedly made a case to the appropriate agencies that they needed external assistance to enable them to stay in business and become more productive and useful, both for themselves and others who may wish to benefit from their services, which is the essence of co-operative enterprises.