Immigrant cooperatives across the country are building community wealth. “In today's anti-immigrant context, access to ongoing legal expertise is absolutely essential,” explains Maria Pascual, the director of Prospera. Headquartered in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, Prospera advances economic empowerment of Latina immigrant women by providing cooperative business ownership opportunities.
Claudia Arroyo celebrating with participants of Prospera’s educational programming.
“Collaborating with the Sustainable Economies Law Center is a great opportunity to join efforts and our passion to create a vibrant ecosystem of cooperatives and inspiring enterprises led by Latina women,” said Claudia Arroyo, the Community Education Director at Prospera. “Having free access to legal advice to understand and navigate a new system is key to launch their businesses and transform their economies.”
Since September 2017, the Law Center has been working with Prospera to offer free legal tools for immigrant-owned cooperatives. Together with Prospera, the Law Center provided legal guidance to aspiring Latina entrepreneurs through a series of participatory workshops and one-on-one legal consultations. The workshop series spanned a wide range of topics, from incorporation and employment law issues to working as an independent contractor in the gig economy.
Claudia especially appreciated that the Law Center made the legal information “simple, free and fun”! For example, in order to make the legal information more dynamic and accessible, the Law Center created interactive skits explaining legal concepts, as well as a colorful, cartoon Operating Agreement in Spanish which, we daresay, is the first of its kind!
Latina leaders learn basic business and cooperative principles as well as how to cultivate their leadership and financial independence.
The Legal Cafes “help us and our participants understand the complex and often changing legal landscape that is specific to being an immigrant business owner and worker owner. Our partnership with SELC over these last few years has been invaluable for the women in our programs,” Maria noted. And as Claudia put it, “Together we are stronger!”