Do you have a business idea? Do you have at least one partner? Are you willing to put in the time and effort to bring it to fruition? The cooperative ecosystem is here to support you!
A set of National and Regional organizations for and about worker cooperatives! They support every aspect of their development, help to coordinate their activities and advocate for legislation favorable to them.
US Federation of Worker Cooperatives:
- Organizing through local cooperative networks while building power with National & International partners to advance an agenda for economic justice rooted in community-based shared ownership.
- The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives represents over 200 business and organizational members representing over 6,000 worker–owners across the country: worker co-ops, democratic workplaces and various organizations and individuals that support worker cooperatives. Member size ranges from 2 to 2,000 workers and spans dozens of industries with varying management and governance structures.
- Resources for Startups can be found here
- The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives offers a free startup webinar the first Friday of every month. You can register in their events page
The mission of the Democracy at Work Institute is to expand the worker cooperative model to reach communities most directly affected by social and economic inequality, specifically people of color, recent immigrants, and low-wage workforces. We are a movement-based think-and-do tank supporting worker cooperatives to grow to a scale that creates meaningful change in the economy.
The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International has the mission to develop, advance and protect cooperative enterprises.The NCBA CLUSA works to build a better world and a more inclusive economy that empowers people to contribute to shared prosperity and well-being for themselves and future generations. By leveraging the shared resources of the cooperative movement, we seek to engage, partner with and empower people from all walks of life—particularly those left behind by a shifting economy and facing the greatest economic and societal barriers. We achieve this vision through collaborative partnerships in development, advocacy, public awareness and thought leadership.
CooperationWorks! — or CW for short — is the Center of Excellence for cooperative business development. We are a dynamic and innovative national cooperative created to grow the cooperative model across the United States. We envision a society in which thriving, cooperatively-owned enterprises are the bridge to a just, resilient democracy. Our mission is to strengthen America’s cooperative movement by building and empowering a network of skilled cooperative development practitioners.
Grassroots Economic Organizing is a decentralized collective of educators, researchers and grassroots activists working to promote an economy based on democratic participation, worker and community ownership, social and economic justice, and ecological sustainability–a “solidarity economy”–through grassroots journalism, organizing support, cross-sector networking and movement-building, and the publication of educational and organizational resources.
ICA seeks to change the nature of work by advancing businesses and institutions that center worker voice, grow worker wealth, and build worker power. We seek to create, promote, and support jobs, while collaborating with workers to define a truly entrepreneurial, democratic, and community-minded economy.
Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) is the source for cooperative development in the Northeast. CDI is a regional 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 1994 by co-op leaders in the Northeast. Cooperative Development Institute’s mission is to build a cooperative economy through the creation and development of successful cooperative enterprises. We are transforming ownership of our economy, so all people can meet their basic needs.
The Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City strengthens and expands community-led, democratically controlled initiatives — from worker, financial and consumer coops to community land trusts and gardens, mutual housing and low-income housing co-ops. Their goal is to build an economy based on values of social and racial justice, ecological sustainability, cooperation, mutualism and democracy.
The New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives is the trade association for worker cooperative businesses in the NYC metropolitan region. They aim to increase public awareness of workplace democracy and improve business conditions for democratic, worker-owned businesses.
The Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI) is a community-led effort to build an equitable, sustainable, and democratic local economy that creates wealth and ownership for low-income people of color—what we call economic democracy.
Do you have at least one partner and a business idea, but don’t know how to make it happen?
Here you will find workshops and courses that will train and coach you through the process.
Green Worker Cooperatives offer an intensive 5-month long training and support program that helps teams of aspiring entrepreneurs develop worker-owned green businesses. It is unique in its focus on businesses that are both green and worker-owned. And utilizes an aggressive combination of training, coaching, and technical services. Think of it as a business boot camp for cooperative start-ups The program includes classroom training; business coaches; and business support services such as legal incorporation, and access to fair financial services. The course is specifically designed so that each team is able to get their business up and running by the completion of the course.
The CFL Cooperative Development Program (CDP) organizes community members to create worker-owned cooperative businesses with the mission of economic and social justice. Through CFL’s holistic, neighborhood-rooted approach. CDP:
- Builds leadership and coaches cooperative members and community organizations.
- Cultivates relationships to strengthen the cooperative movement.
- Generates and shares best practices and models for cooperative growth.
The Art and Science of Cooperative Development A rigorous three-part course for participants to develop the skills to start a new cooperative and assist groups to start new cooperative enterprises.
A collection of documents and videos to learn on your own all you need to start a cooperative.
Cultivate.Coop is a library of information about cooperatives. Everything here is created by and for people who work in co-ops. You can edit and upload content to Cultivate.coop just like Wikipedia.
Collecting Ourselves: A Cooperative Entrepreneurship Curriculum
Cooperative Development Institute – Co-op 101: A Guide to Starting a Cooperative
Democracy At Work Institute – Information for Start-ups
Democracy At Work Institute – Becoming Employee- Owned
An online course for entrepreneurs building cooperatively-owned businesses.
The Laura Flanders Show: Own The Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time
Economic Update by Richard D. Wolff: Worker Co-Ops Rising
The Laura Flanders Show: Jessica Gordon Nembhard: Cooperative Economics and Civil Rights
The Laura Flanders Show: Collective Courage: A Conversation on Cooperation in African-American Communities
Why the cooperative model is a revolution | A TEDx Talk by Melanie Shellito
How to stop poverty: start a worker-owned cooperative | A TEDx Talk by Jim Brown
Looking for financial support? Here are several lenders that will provide the means for building your cooperative.
Community Capital New York is an economic catalyst. A nonprofit alternative lender, we serve eight counties in the Hudson Valley and Fairfield County, CT. Community Capital provides loans that create quality jobs, revitalized Main Streets, affordable homes and tax revenues to foster opportunity, change lives and create impact. Through flexible, innovative and responsive lending coupled with financial education, we create economically healthy communities and enable traditionally underserved people to become stakeholders in the Hudson Valley’s and Fairfield County’s economy. We work outside the margins of conventional finance to bring individuals and communities into the economic mainstream and create financial independence through financial, educational and business development services to give low to moderate income people the resources needed to succeed. Community Capital New York makes the American Dream come true by providing working people with working capital and the power of knowledge.
Shared Capital: Connecting Coops and Capital
Shared Capital Cooperative is a national CDFI loan fund that connects co-ops and capital to build economic democracy. Working with capital invested by the cooperative sector and its allies, we provide financing for the expansion and startup of cooperatively-owned businesses and housing throughout the United States. We are a cooperative ourselves with over 265 members nation-wide in 35 states. We understand cooperative capital needs and have supported member-led co-op structures with more than $52 million in loans to cooperatives since 1978. We believe that cooperatives are an important economic tool for equitable community development and community wealth building. Our financing supports local communities that are starting and growing co-ops to create living wage jobs, support sustainable food systems, expand access to healthy foods, provide affordable housing, and develop democratic workplaces and community ownership.
The Working World builds cooperative businesses in low-income communities, using a groundbreaking model that combines non-extractive finance with tailor-made business support.
Co-op Hudson Valley supports workers and grassroots projects that want to start and grow cooperative businesses while working to strengthen the regional cooperative ecosystem. They do this by pairing non-extractive loans with technical assistance and coaching, which helps projects thrive. Co-op HV works with people who have been excluded from economic security to create opportunities in their own community for collective ownership and dignified work.
The Cooperative Fund of New England (CFNE) is a community development loan fund that facilitates socially responsible investing in cooperatives, community-oriented nonprofits, and worker-owned businesses in New England and adjacent communities in New York.
The national Employee Ownership Catalyst Fund supports businesses throughout the U.S. that want to transition to employee ownership and need capital to finance the transition and transaction.
Writing the by-laws and legally registering your cooperative are usually difficult processes for those that don’t have legal expertise. These organizations specialize in giving you the legal support that you’ll need.
Start Small Think Big is a nonprofit that helps small businesses with high potential and limited access to the resources needed to create thriving businesses. A network of legal experts to help alleviate the legal burdens of business ownership and enable small businesses to thrive.
The Urban Justice Center takes a unique, two prong approach to promoting social justice. They mentor urgently needed new interventions in the nonprofit field, and through them, we provide direct legal assistance to vulnerable people and communities.
Democracy At Work Institute (DAWI): Choosing a Business Entity, A guide for Worker Cooperatives
Welcome to Co-opLaw.org, an online legal resource library supporting democratic, worker-owned businesses from the Sustainable Economies Law Center and our friends and comrades across the country. The Law Center’s mission is to cultivate a new legal landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment, helping bridge the gap in legal expertise needed to transition from destructive economic systems to innovative and cooperative alternatives.
More than half the businesses in the US are owned by people over 55 years old. The next decade will see a “silver tsunami” of baby boomer retirements. Many of them would sell their business to their employees to form worker-owned cooperatives.
Owner to Owners is built to help business owners overcome unprecedented challenges. Our expert service providers have a proven track record of helping NYC business owners stabilize their businesses, complete business sales to employees, and achieve growth in difficult times.
Project Equity supports businesses to transition to broad-based, democratic employee ownership. We support selling business owners to assess fit with this approach, support the sale of the business, and work with a core group of employees to structure and successfully operationalize a transition to employee ownership and an effective ownership culture.
National Center for Employment Ownership
We are a nonprofit organization that has been supporting the employee ownership community since 1981. Our mission is to help employee ownership thrive.
Employee Ownership Expansion Network
The Employee Ownership Expansion Network is a national nonprofit focused on significantly expanding employee ownership across the United States by establishing and supporting a network of independent nonprofit State Centers for Employee Ownership. We see employee ownership as a critical tool to help reduce income and wealth disparity, increasing community wealth, and creating a more vibrant, participatory economy.
New Jersey/New York Center for Employee Ownership at Rutgers University
The New Jersey/New York Center for Employee Ownership (NJ/NY CEO) promotes better understanding of the values of employee ownership among business leaders, public officials, employees, members of the media, students, teachers, nonprofit leaders, consumers, and other persons and organizations in New Jersey and New York.
Exit to community
Most startups aim for an “exit” like getting acquired or going public, but these ownership transitions often pit startup founders and investors against the health of their community. We’re enabling a new option, an Exit to Community — a path for startups to become owned and controlled by users, workers, and stakeholders who value and depend on the startup. With E2C, the businesses become a way to advance economic justice as a commons, not a commodity for investors to buy and sell. We created this site to help make E2C a more viable option for the startups we love.
Starting any business is hard and requires expertise. These organizations help you solve your business challenges.
PennPAC is a 501(c)3 independent nonprofit with a mission to harness the intellectual talents and professional skills of alumni of the University of Pennsylvania in a meaningful and socially beneficial way. Accordingly, PennPAC works with nonprofit organizations to help solve their business challenges through the engagement of Penn alumni who serve as pro bono consultants for short-term projects.
Launch1000 is an online, self-paced program teaching you to evaluate your idea, test it with potential customers, and see if it seems likely to succeed. Your results will depend on your own motivation and your own hard work. As you progress through the program, additional resources such as mentorship, valuable introductions, and even grants, will be made available.
Rockland Small Business Development Center
The Acceleration Project (TAP) is a female-founded, female-led business advisory firm dedicated to keeping local economies vital and channeling talent into the economy. We support underserved small businesses, with a focus on those owned by women and People of Color. Our services range from deep engagements with individual businesses to scalable programs delivered through webinars and workshops. Structured as a 501(c)(3), supported by grants and donations, TAP provides high caliber advice at an accessible price to hundreds of businesses across the country. These efforts have resulted in increased sales, improved margins and operations, and stronger financial management.
Free expert advice to start or grow your small business. SCORE volunteers are experienced entrepreneurs, corporate managers, and executives across a diverse set of industries and specialties who volunteer their experience and knowledge to help small business professionals start, develop, and grow businesses.
Farming Supporting Organizations
The US has a long tradition of farmer cooperatives (ncfc.org). These organizations support the new generation of farming cooperatives.
The GREENHORNS believe we humans must reform agriculture to survive on this planet. Our mission is to create a welcoming cultural space and a practical professional resource for those new to ecological farming. We make books, films, radio, parties, symposia, workshops, networking and online curriculum. We are based in rural Maine where we farm and host campers, researchers, media producers, artists and collaborators. Our community is the international movement of LA VIA CAMPESINA. Our activism helps us express our solidarity with future generations and the non-human world. Come! We can do it together.
A Greenhorns Guidebook: Cooperative Farming: Framework for Farming Together
Agrarian Trust: Supporting land access for next generation of farmers
The 7 cooperative principles.
VOLUNTARY & OPEN MEMBERSHIP
Anyone can join a co-op—they don’t discriminate based on gender, social, racial, political or religious factors.
DEMOCRATIC MEMBER CONTROL
Members control their business by deciding how it’s run and who leads it.
MEMBERS' ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION
All co-op members invest in their cooperative. This means people, not shareholders, benefit from a co-op’s profits.
AUTONOMY & INDEPENDENCE
When making business deals or raising money, co-ops never compromise their autonomy or democratic member control.
EDUCATION, TRAINING, INFORMATION
Co-ops provide education, training and information so their members can contribute effectively to the success of their co-op.
COOPERATION AMONG COOPERATIVES
Co-ops believe working together is the best strategy to empower their members and build a stronger co-op economy.
CONCERN FOR COMMUNITY
Co-ops are community-minded. They contribute to the sustainable development of their communities by sourcing and investing locally.