We're here to point you in the right direction. Whether you are a retiring business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, the Rhode Island Center for Employee Ownership can answer your questions about worker ownership and connect you to the right people to get your worker co-op off the ground.
If you're looking to get your worker cooperative off the ground, there are a number of co-op incubators in the Rhode Island area that are willing to help.
Based in Central Falls, Rhode Island, Fuerza Laboral runs the POWER Network Co-op Incubator program. The program is working to construct "a network of worker-owned co-ops that will provide living-wage employment instead of the low-wage, exploitative jobs typically reserved for immigrants and people of color."
The Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) is the Northeast's source for co-op development assistance. They support not only worker co-ops, but also cooperative housing projects, grocery stores, and more.
Start.coop accelerates cooperative startups by giving them the training, financing, and technical assistance they need to hit the ground running. One of the most notable co-ops to graduate from the accelerator program is Ampled, a cooperative platform for supporting indie musicians.
Although co-ops can sometimes get financing from a traditional lender, many banks are still not familiar with the cooperative model and therefore tend to deny loan applications. Some co-ops have seen success by each member taking out a loan individually, but this approach may not be ideal for everyone.
Luckily, there are non-profit organizations that exist specifically to finance co-op startups and conversions.
CFNE works for economic, social, and racial justice by advancing community-based, cooperative and democratically owned or managed enterprises with a preference to assisting cooperatives in low-income communities. They have been assisting co-ops since 1975.
Shared Capital Co-op is a cooperative that lends to cooperatives. They have been active for the last 40 years and have financed more than 800 cooperative projects. Any type of co-op is eligible, but must become a member before being able to borrow.
The Working World is the largest lender of specialized co-op loans. In their own words, they build "cooperative businesses in low-income communities, using a groundbreaking model that combines non-extractive finance with tailor-made business support." The Working World also assists in converting existing businesses to worker co-ops.
Navigant does not specialize in cooperative loans, but they have previously lent to worker co-ops in Rhode Island.
The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives. Their mission is to build a thriving cooperative movement of stable, empowering jobs through worker ownership. USFWC advances worker-owned, -managed, and -governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy and development.
The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the primary voice in the United States for people who use cooperatives to build a better world.
The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) is the apex body representing cooperatives, which are estimated to be around 3 million worldwide, providing a global voice and forum for knowledge, expertise and co-ordinated action for and about cooperatives.
Democracy at Work (D@W) is a non-profit 501(c)3 that produces media and live events. D@W analyzes capitalism critically as a systemic problem and advocates for democratizing workplaces as part of a systemic solution.