Starting any business is challenging, and co-ops are no different. As veteran co-op developer Russ Christianson observes: “Like any good business, a co-op requires an excellent business plan, sufficient start-up capital, and the tenacity of its founders. There will be long hours, many meetings, and low pay in the start-up phase.”
Fortunately, the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation (CWCF) is offering a way to smoothen this phase of a worker co-op’s development with the upcoming launch of its Worker Co-op Academy, a five-month program that will guide groups of entrepreneurs who are ready to move forward into the business planning stage of their enterprise. This program will help participants discover the other side of launching a co-op: the fact that, as Russ further observes, “there will also be breakthroughs, exciting developments and the internal reward of accomplishing something important to you and your community.” In contrast to traditional businesses, worker-owners at worker co-ops participate in the profits and oversight of the enterprise on a democratic basis. The model has proven to be an effective tool for creating and maintaining sustainable, dignified jobs; generating wealth; and improving the quality of life of workers.
The online Worker Co-op Academy with Russ as its Lead Instructor and now launching May 31, 2021 (the application due date is May 20) offers the opportunity to achieve all of these things, supported by experienced co-op developers who will provide each group with 20 hours of one-on-one coaching. Groups will be surrounded by other participants who will share the successes and challenges of bringing their ideas to life. And each group will also play an important role in the development of the Worker Co-op Academy itself, as this pilot program will help CWCF test its process, tools and virtual aspects.
CWCF already knows there are a lot of great potential co-ops out there, co-ops for which the Worker Co-op Academy could make the difference between success and failure. Whoever you are, wherever you are in Canada*, and whatever your plan, we encourage you to consider applying.
If you want to find out more about what a worker co-op is please join us in on the monthly webinar “What is a worker co-op?,“ next offered on June 22. Note that this is also a prerequisite for those who are planning to apply for the program. Additional program information is available here; the intake process, intake form and application form can all be found here. If you have any questions feel free to contact Communications and Member Services Manager Kaye Grant.
*Note that if your co-op will launch in Quebec, we refer you instead to the Parcours COOP program offered by the Réseau COOP; see this link.