cooperative development from the grassroots

Co-op Governance Workshops

English registration:

This is a 2-part, virtual workshop series using the Zoom platform. These free workshops will be interactive and give time and space for participants to support each other and share their wisdom. Please plan to be fully present and use a connection with video if possible. Registration for English Part 1 will close Monday, August 17.

Part 1: Member Rights and Responsibilities – Tuesday, August 18, 2020 6-7:30 pm (EDT)
Part 2: Management & Governance: Who Decides What? – Tuesday, August 25, 2020 6-7:30pm (EDT)

Presented by Boston Center for Community Ownership for the Cooperative Fund of New England, with support from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation.

English registration:

Click here for the Spanish version of these workshops

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Talleres de Gobernanza Cooperativa

Registración para el taller en español 

Serie de 2 talleres en línea en Zoom.  Estos talleres gratuitos serán interactivos y darán tiempo y espacio para que los participantes se apoyen mutuamente y compartan sus conocimientos y experiencia. Favor de hacer planes para estar presente y usando una conexión con video, si es posible. La inscripción cerrará el miércoles 19 de agosto para el taller 1.

Taller 1: Derechos y responsabilidades de miembrxs – jueves 20 de agosto de 2020, 6-7:30 pm (EDT)
Taller 2: ¿Quién decide qué? Gobernancia y gerencia – jueves el 27 de agosto de 2020, 6-7:30 pm (EDT)

Facilitado por Boston Center for Community Ownership. Alojado por Cooperative Fund of New England y Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation.

Registración para el taller en español 

Haga clic aquí para ver la versión en inglés de estos talleres.

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2019 Small Business Financial Planning Workshops

BCCO is pleased to announce this workshop series, sponsored by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, with funding from Santander Bank, and support from TESA Collective. If you are a small business owner or employee and you’re getting ready to launch or expand your business, this series is designed for you. Our goal is to de-mystify small business financial planning, help you understand what your financial reports are telling you, help you make solid financial decisions based on your actual financial performance, and to make sure you look good when you apply for loans and investments.

The workshops will take place at the Fields Corner Business Lab, located at 1452 Dorchester Ave, 4th Floor, Fields Corner, Dorchester MA. The workshop is free, but you must pre-register using our online registration form here. Seats are limited, and preference will be given to cooperatives and businesses owned by, or employing people with barriers to employment and ownership, such as immigrants, people of color, low-wealth individuals, and those with CORI records. Spanish language interpretation will be available, as well as individual coaching between sessions for those who want more support. Our instructor is Stacey Cordeiro, who has been working for almost 20 years assisting cooperatives and small businesses. Please see our online registration form for more information and logistics.

May 20: Income Statements, Markup and Margin, and the Break-Even Point

Bring your Income Statement (aka Profit & Loss Statement) from your existing business, or work from a sample statement that we provide.  Learn the difference between direct and indirect expenses, how to calculate Gross and Net profit margins, and how much markup you should be charging to cover your overhead costs.  Learn how to visualize your break-even point, and how to use that number to steer your path toward profitability.

June 3: Balance Sheet, Working Capital – Indicators of business financial health

Bring your Balance Sheet from your existing business, or work from a sample we provide.  Learn how to think about what you “own” and what you “owe”, and calculate some simple indicators to help you assess the financial health of your business.  Learn how to calculate working capital, and why it’s so important to the financial health of your business.

New Date – June 17: Cash Flow Statements, Debt Service Coverage Ratios

Learn to construct a Cash Flow Statement, working from an Income Statement and Balance Sheet (bring statements from your existing business, or work from samples we provide).  Learn the crucial difference between profits and cash and answer the questions: If we’re profitable, why is there no cash? OR If we have cash, why are we not profitable? Learn how to calculate your Debt Service Coverage Ratio – a key indicator to know if you plan to apply for a loan.  Understand what Payables and Receivables are, and how they add – or subtract – cash from your business.

June 24: Creative ways to finance a business: Where to find loans and investment for your business

It takes money to make money – so where will the money come from?  It isn’t easy to raise money for a business, and most entrepreneurs make use of several different methods to put together the financing they need. Learn how to make use of debt and equity financing, crowdfunding and more.  We will discuss what lenders and investors are looking for when reviewing your loan application, and learn from real-world examples of local businesses that found the funding they needed to succeed.

Getting Loan Ready (a two-part, hands-on workshop): How to forecast your Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow

Session I, July 8: Forecast overhead costs, sales, and per-unit costs to create a projected Income Statement.  Forecast cash provided by loans and investments, and any capital purchases needed in the future.  Identify gaps in your projections that need further research.
Session II, July 22: After doing any necessary research to fill in unknown numbers on the projected financial statements, participants will come back together to share their financial projections and give a practice pitch to a theoretical funder.  

Ready to sign up? Please fill out our registration form, or contact us with any questions through our online contact form, or call 617-446-3608.

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Upcoming workshops on cooperative business

The City of Boston has launched a Worker Cooperative Initiative in concert with Mayor Walsh’s efforts to expand support for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and create opportunities for economic mobility for every Bostonian.

You will learn about selling businesses to employees, different types of employee ownership, and improving business by engaging workers from the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF), Boston Center for Community Ownership, and the ICA Group.

This event is presented by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Women Entrepreneurs Boston, and the Roxbury Innovation Center.

Information on May 31 Workshop here!

Information on June 22 Workshop here!

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Boston City Council Hearing on Cooperatives

City Council Hearing

We’re very excited that the City of Boston, from the Mayor’s office to the City Council, is getting fired up about cooperatives.  Today is the City Council’s hearing on co-ops, and we will be there giving testimony on the economic impact of cooperatives to our city.  If you’d like to read more, check out our new resource, The Case for Cooperatives as a Local Economic Development Strategy.  It has links to all the most recent research from the US and abroad.

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Worker-Owned Cooperatives Are Larger Than Conventional Firms

In “What Do We Really Know About Worker Co-operatives?“, Virginie Pérotin writes,

“Perhaps the most common received idea about worker co-operatives is that they must be small. It is often thought worker co-operatives must be financially constrained, and a small size is sometimes regarded as a condition for workplace democracy to function… People will also commonly remark that very large worker co-operatives are extremely rare…. What is not widely understood is that most firms actually are very small.” (p.6)

Pérotin cites research studies from Italy, the US, Spain, France, and Uruguay, which all indicate that, on the whole, worker-owned cooperatives tend to be slightly larger than conventional firms (p. 6-9).

In the US, the best estimate of the size distribution of cooperatives comes from the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI) . Their 2013 survey of US worker-owned cooperatives shows a size distribution consistent with Pérotin’s research: on the whole, US worker co-ops seem to be somewhat larger than other firms:


Source Data: 2013 DAWI survey of cooperatives (n=117); US Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Business Employment Dynamics Data by Firm Size Class, Table G. Distribution of private sector firms by size class

Now, by definition, a worker cooperative has three or more employees.  Any fewer, and the business would be considered a partnership or sole proprietorship.  Since the US economy, like most economies, is dominated by small firms, especially sole proprietors with no employees, perhaps we should exclude the smallest firms from our analysis, to see what happens when we take away both the smallest co-ops and the smallest conventional firms:


Source Data: 2013 DAWI survey of cooperatives (n=117); US Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Business Employment Dynamics Data by Firm Size Class, Table G. Distribution of private sector firms by size class


Excluding firms with 10 or fewer employees, the distribution of businesses by size looks very similar, whether the business is a worker co-op or conventional firm.  DAWI’s sample size of 117 firms is quite small, of course, although it is an impressively large sample, considering that there were only 256 worker co-ops in the US at the time of this survey, according to their analysis.

While this quick analysis doesn’t constitute the same type of rigorous academic research cited by Pérotin, it also doesn’t contradict the finding that, in the US and worldwide, worker cooperatives are by no means smaller firms than conventional businesses – if anything the data suggest they may consistently be larger.



Pérotin, Virginie “What Do We Really Know About Worker Co-operatives?”

Click to access worker_co-op_report.pdf

Democracy at Work Institute, “US Worker Cooperatives: A State of the Sector”

Click to access State_of_the_sector_0.pdf

US Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Business Employment Dynamics Data by Firm Size Class, Table G. Distribution of private sector firms by size class

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