II 15 ECWD 2013, ADWC

Articles related to the ADWC pre-conference to the 2013 Eastern Conference on Workplace Democracy (ECWD)

In the past year, over a dozen investors made an amazing commitment to the future of worker cooperation and worker-controlled enterprise by investing in Workers Diner. These investments signaled the potential for a new method of raising startup capital for worker cooperative businesses. On the basis of decades-old securities rules, Workers Diner conducted a direct public offering (DPO) in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Regions: 
Visions & Models: 
Movements & Struggles: 
Practices, Tools & Strategies: 

(Editor’s Note: The Valley Aliance of Worker Co-ops (VAWC) received the 2013 Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy's Award for Co-operative Advocacy and Development. The award specified not only VAWC’s commitment to co-op led development, but their numerous successful worker co-op conversions, the many presentations of their model of development, and the high level of their co-op leadership in the movement.

Summary:

This article provides an overview of various financing models used in the Province of Quebec and in other parts of Canada.   My experience primarily comes from the worker/employee owned co-operatives, but as a co-op developer I also draw on inspiring stories from various forms of co-operatives. 

The Arizmendi Association model of financing draws on elements of successful European cooperative networks we have studied (specifically the Mondragon and Italian models) as well as a business model native to the United States, such as franchising (for more information about the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives see here). 

Mariposa Food Co-op is a consumer owned and member-worker run food co-op operating in the West Philadelphia neighborhood since 1971. After 41 years of being a members-only space, we opened our doors to the community in 2012, in a space five times that of our historic location. In total, our expansion effort racked up over $2.5 million in debt.

In 1975, leaders of New England’s food co-op community joined with socially-oriented investors affiliated with the Haymarket People’s Fund to unlock access to debt capital for the many food co-ops that were starting and expanding.

There are limited options when looking to finance a co-op, especially a worker co-op. Aside from co-operative loan funds (like the Cooperative Fund of New England {see article by Micha Josephy in this issue}, Workers Revolving Loan Fund and Northcountry Co-operative Fund) and the rare credit union that lends to businesses, financial institutions do not understand co-operatives. Most lenders are completely unfamiliar with the Co-operative Principles and how they influence our business practices.

Building a Solidarity Financial System for co-operatives and democratic work places through a culture of belief

This is Part I of the SolidarityNYC (SolNYC) interview with The Working World (TWW). It is an alternative loan fund that supports worker run co-operatives and other democratic workplaces with micro-credit loans and technical support.

In 2012, the Democracy at Work Network (DAWN) was approached by Kiva Zip about being a pilot trustee for its direct micro-lending program. Kiva Microfinance began in 2005, a non-profit that collects funds online from individual lenders and offers loans to individual entrepreneurs abroad. Since inception, it has made more than 1,000,000 loans. These loans rely on in-country field partners to administer the funds. Kiva launched its newer Zip program in order to loan directly to individuals, asking only that a “trustee” vet applicants and vouch for their credibility.

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