The deadline is approaching to apply for this year’s Worker Coop Academy (WCA)!
The Academy is an intensive 14 week course that provides entrepreneurs, business owners, and economic development organizations the tools they need to build, strengthen, or convert to a worker owned business. The Academy also provides participants one-on-one business and legal consultations. You can find more information at theselc.org/wca_apply and watch our recorded info session here.
We are accepting applications through June 14th, which is less than a week away! Applications are submitted through an online form and it is free to apply.
Would the Worker Coop Academy be a good fit for your business? Look here to learn more and hear what last year’s participants gained from the experience!
We are looking for teams (of three or more people) that fit in one of the following four categories: Startups (Founders of new worker cooperatives), expanders (members of existing worker coops that seek to grow their business), converters (owners and employees looking to transition an existing business to worker ownership) and developers (staff of coop development organizations along with members of coops they are incubating).
Check out the adapted excerpts below from GEO.coop’s interviews with last year’s WCA participants to learn more about what your business can gain from enrolling!
A Start-Up: Hope Farms is a cooperatively run farm with aspirations of creating a coop nework of small local farms and small corner stores to sell their food in underserved neighborhoods in Oakland.
Hope Farms member-owners reported that the Academy “refined their vision, rather than changed it.” A lot of the information was new to them—including the organizational structures, lessons on financial details, and the history and principles of the cooperative movement. Though the group had understood the basic economic ideas of coops, they would not have known how to implement them without this sharing of fundamental and broader ideas. More than anything, the Academy connected this aspiring coop to a network of local coops and coop support structures.
An Expander: Mandela Foods Cooperative is a community-oriented grocery store in West Oakland that was incorporated as a cooperative by a neighborhood nonprofit development group in 2010. When they entered the WCA, the worker-owners felt that they needed to solve some business problems; they were struggling with process mapping and project management. As one worker-owner, Adrionna Fike, explains it, they faced a common business challenge: they spent so much time working in the business that they didn’t often have time to work on the business.
Fike says the changes were immediately effective--they streamlined the logistics of produce delivery and unpacking so as to optimize their display. The WCA effectively created a space and a regular time for the worker-owners to improve their operations with help from the teachers and fellow cooperatives attending.
A Converter: On the Spot Massage has operated on and off as a for profit business for a decade and went into the WCA with the instinct that a multi-stakeholder cooperative would be a better way of functioning, but they weren’t sure exactly what it would mean to become one.
As Shoshana Frumkin put it, the Academy was “very rich, very nutrient dense. We’re still opening all the gifts that we got from them….We now have colleague
s, we have consultants we can call on, we’ve got lawyers and accountants, we’ve got this whole network of people that are coming from this coop place!”