Starting your own business is hard. Starting your own social enterprise or cooperative also comes with its own challenges. Just because you want to change the world, or you have an ethical way of doing business, does not make the act of creating a viable enterprise any easier. Nonetheless building a thriving social enterprise or cooperative is a wonderfully rewarding activity that can make a difference to the world around us.
Part of the reason we set up Cooperative Power was to help create an environment where more cooperatives thrived. Having a cooperative electricity retailer meant that new cooperatives deal with an energy organisation that understands where they are coming from, and is committed to helping other cooperatives grow. Not only that but as a non-distributing cooperative, Cooperative Power’s mission is to help take profits and dividends out of the electricity system and to reinvest that money directly into a sustainable, democratic and community-owned projects. Supporting Cooperative Power, therefore, is one way of creating a social ecosystem that helps new cooperatives and social enterprise thrive.
It’s all well and good to build an environment more conducive to the growth of worker cooperatives and other forms of social enterprise, but you’ll still need tips, advice and mentoring to set up a new business. That’s where Earthworker, one of our founding member-organisations, can help you. Earthworker have set up a page full of resources and examples for people wanting to start their own cooperative. It includes a set up manual, step by step guides and links to all sorts of other helpful organisations both in Australia and around the world. Sometimes, setting up your own business, even with the best guides and manuals, can just be too daunting.
Earthworker are also partnering with Jesuit Social Services to deliver a pilot program course called ‘Starting a worker-cooperative’. It’s a pre-accredited training course that will be delivered over 10 weeks from October 7 to December 9 2020. You’ll need to book soon as places are limited.
The course will be facilitated by Katherine Cunningham, Earthworker organiser, board member and business entrepreneur, and Eleanor Coffey, Earthworker organiser and cofounder of the Redgum Cleaning Co-operative. We are delivering it through the Jesuit Social Services ‘Learn Local’ program.
Please note that the contact for enrolments and further info is courses at jss.org.au.