Financing Worker Co-op Startups in Minnesota

Startup funding for worker cooperatives can come from myriad sources. The hitch is that there just aren’t that many worker cooperatives existing here in Minnesota or elsewhere to define predictable, proven resources. According to the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, “Worker cooperatives are business entities that are owned and controlled by their members, the people who work in them”. Though Minnesota is a leader in member/producer cooperatives, only about 1% off all cooperatives that exist nationwide are worker cooperatives. Thus, any group willing and interested in starting a worker cooperative will to a certain extent be pioneering in an area where it may take a tolerance for trial and error exploration of different funding prototypes to find the right mix of start-up funding. On the plus side, finding success in funding a fledgling worker cooperative could unleash significant potential for creating unique and revolutionary ways of making a living for the worker-owners of the enterprise.

This paper is meant to be a source for ideas and to get the creative juices flowing. It is not an exhaustive list of resources. Further, there is no guarantee that any one of these suggested sources will work for your group of potential worker-owners. They are possibilities based upon their funding criteria listed on their respective websites. Ultimately it will depend on a combination of the funder’s criteria at the time you are seeking funding (this can and will change over time), and your success at articulating an attractive proposal to them. Some of the lenders listed specifically state on their website that they will fund worker cooperatives, some do not.

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