by Professor Richard D. Wolff
Where would WSDEs obtain the money needed to start and/or later grow their enterprises? Existing WSDEs have answered that question practically in a variety of ways. In addition, we can suggest still other ways that could be established. The problem of raising the money needed to start or grow a workers’ cooperative or self-directed enterprise is solvable. Of course, each WSDE will need to locate and access money resources and not every WSDE’s efforts to do so will be successful. That was always true for capitalist enterprises as well. Financing issues are always enterprise problems, but they are not an insurmountable barrier for transition to a WSDE-based economy.
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Despite the current crisis, it is estimated that between 2007 and 2011, employment in cooperatives has increased by 8%, compared with a decrease of 2.3% in all types of enterprises in Italy.
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From corner bakeries to one of Spain’s largest companies, worker-owned co-ops around the world are providing an alternative model to business as usual. Listen to the worker-owners of the Evergreen Cooperatives, which are transforming an economically distressed neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio – and changing lives at the same time. Listen here.
As more worker cooperatives spring up around the United States, American workers might want to look towards Father Arizmendi’s example. Read the article here.
For women producers, who are at a greater disadvantage, cooperatives offer networks of mutual support and solidarity that allow them to grow their social capital, improve their self-esteem and self-reliance, acquire a greater voice in decision-making, and collectively negotiate better contract terms, prices and access to a wide range of resources and services including:
☐ agricultural resources and assets;
☐ markets to commercialize their produce;
☐ credit, capital and other financial services; and
☐ social services.
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“I think the most important reason the community went forward to explore this business model is that the Old Creamery is so much more than a store,” Longey said. “It’s really served as a hub of community activity, a gathering place.”
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“Young women and men around the world want to be a part of an environmentally, socially and economically more responsible world order. The principles of independence, autonomy and democracy enshrined in co-operative enterprises can provide a good match for the aspirations of young people.”
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