In this overview we will provide a broad context for cooperatives and the solidarity economy and dive deeper into worker cooperatives specifically. We will explore what makes worker cooperatives different from traditional businesses, why they are a more just form of business development, and three areas of work to consider when starting a cooperative: Co-op Capacity Development, Business Development and Ecosystem Development.
Understanding business basics is essential for worker participation in a company’s governance. The Business Model Canvas provides a simple framework for business modeling and analysis that can be applied to any company. Students will learn the key components of a basic business plan, learn the elements and purpose of the business model canvas and its relation to financials and business plans, use the business model canvas to develop a strategy for an example business, analyzing its value proposition and key components of its cost structure and revenue streams.
Through this participatory workshop we will create a shared understanding of the economy and framework for economic justice. Participants learn about existing models for housing, work, finance and land use that embody economic justice principles, as well as ways they can plug into existing initiatives and movements for economic justice in NYC.
In many worker cooperatives, an elected board is empowered to make most governance decisions through a process outlined in the company’s by-laws. In this module, we will learn how to facilitate governance meetings in order to create, assess and ratify proposals. Students will be introduced to democratic decision-making processes, discuss the function of by-laws in a worker cooperative, learn about meeting facilitation and different models of democratic decision making and simulate the cooperative decision-making process using example scenarios.
The purpose of this session is to begin identifying the management and governance needs in a cooperative. We introduce participants to three distinct roles worker owners play as owners and policy-setters of a business (governance), managers of a business (carrying out the policy), and workers in a business (engaging in the core operations). We will be focusing particularly on the distinction between governance and management. We brainstorm decisions cooperatives have to make, and introduce a “test” for whether these decisions should be considered governance or management decisions. In this session we provide examples of management and committee structures within cooperatives (e.g. task delegation components of a business that help it run smoothly) and governance structures within cooperatives.
This workshop gives participants the tools to calculate basic revenue, cost and profitability projections for their business to answer the question “is my business economically sustainable?” This workshop picks up where the Business Model Canvas workshop leaves off and helps participants understand fixed costs, variable costs, net profit and key factors that will affect their business. Students will leave the workshop with a tool for making their own financial projections.