We are pleased to announce our new Worker Cooperative Fellowship, designed to provide founding teams of entrepreneurs of color with the support and resources to develop worker cooperative businesses in their communities.
We recognize the rich history of cooperative models in communities of color, especially Black communities, as a means for economic survival and cultivating resilience. And with the recent impact of COVID-19, we see a greater need for entrepreneurs of color to advance cooperative models as a way to address the failures in our economic system.
What You Will Receive
Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams will receive rigorous education and mentorship to accelerate your business as a worker cooperative, access to resources from our business partner network, and a community of likeminded peers.
Education & Mentorship
Teams will receive free enrollment in our year-long small business program. This program provides rigorous and hands-on education and mentorship designed to support you in planning, growing, funding and leading your business as a worker cooperative.
Teams will gain access to our business partnership network. Our trusted partners provide you with valuable opportunities for building your network and resources to support the growth of your business.
In addition, teams will receive a $2,500 stipend to apply toward legal fees for establishing or converting the business as a worker cooperative.
One of the most powerful things about Uptima is our community network. Our community is a valuable resource that connects your team with like-minded peers, business advisors, and partner organizations who will support you throughout your entrepreneurial journey.
Who is Eligible
Applicant teams who meet the following basic criteria will be considered for our Worker Cooperative Fellowship.
- Founding team of up to three entrepreneurs of color who manage the day-to-day operations of a business that meets the criteria below
- Have experience in the field in which you are starting a business or operating an existing business
- Majority of team members are current residents of Oakland or San Francisco
- All team members are at least 21 years or older as of the application deadline
- All team members are proficient in English
- All team members are able to commit 15-20 hours per week to building the business
- Existing business or business concept
- Have already established the business as a worker cooperative or are looking to establish or convert the business to a worker cooperative
- Has the potential for meaningful positive social, environmental, and economic impact in your local community
- Has a product / service in the market or has demonstrated a minimum viable product / service
- Has an online presence for the business through a website and social media
- Generating less than $20,000 in sales over the last year
- Has not received more than $10,000 of outside funding (e.g., pitch competitions, crowdfunding, loans, equity)
How We Select Fellows
We will select up to two Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams in Oakland and/or San Francisco. A local selection committee will review and select the Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams.
Become a Fellow
Become one of our first Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams in Oakland or San Francisco.
Applications are due August 21, 2020!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a worker cooperative?
According to the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives: “A worker cooperative is a values-driven business that puts worker and community benefit at the core of its purpose. In contrast to traditional companies, worker members at worker cooperatives participate in the profits, oversight, and often management of the enterprise using democratic practices. The model has proven to be an effective tool for creating and maintaining sustainable, dignified jobs; generating wealth; improving the quality of life of workers; and promoting community and local economic development, particularly for people who lack access to business ownership or sustainable work options.”
Does our team have to be residents of Oakland and/or San Francisco?
We are committed to supporting the local economies where we run our programs. As such, a majority of your team must be residents in Oakland or San Francisco.
How much does the Worker Cooperative Fellowship cost?
There is no cost to be a Worker Cooperative Fellowship Team. Fellowship Teams receive a full scholarship to our year-long small business program.
What is the value of the Worker Cooperative Fellowship?
Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams have the opportunity to gain full scholarship into our year-long small business program led by trusted business advisors, which is valued at over $10,000, as well as a stipend of $2,500 to apply toward legal fees for setting up their worker cooperative. By completing the program, each Worker Cooperative Fellowship Team will have the knowledge, tools, and network necessary to successfully establish and grow their worker cooperative business.
Can you provide more detail on the average time commitment of 15-20 hours / week?
The time commitment is dedicated to building your business. A typical week for our Worker Cooperative Fellowship Team consists of participation in weekly in-person and online workshops, business development activities, mentorship sessions, peer groups, and required readings and research.
What if our team is unable to complete the one-year commitment if we are chosen?
All Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams are required to sign a statement of agreement indicating their commitment to the year-long program. In the event that an Worker Cooperative Fellowship Team must withdraw from the program prematurely, a partial repayment of any coursework already completed may be required.
What kind of worker cooperative businesses or business concepts are you looking for?
We encourage teams who are passionate about creating sustainable impact in their community to apply. Some of the entrepreneurs and small business owners we have worked with in the past include, but are not limited to, those in arts and culture, health and wellness, food and beverage, retail and eCommerce, manufacturing, and services.
What kind of positive social, environmental, or economic impact are you looking for?
We are looking for Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams who believe in advancing principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. This includes businesses and business concepts that advance worker ownership and democracy, provide for cultural expression, create good jobs, utilize sustainable production methods, shift to zero waste, among other practices.
What is a minimum viable product / service?
A minimum viable product / service is the smallest, least time and resource intensive thing you can do or build that will demonstrate the value of your business idea. We are looking for Impact Fellows who are currently testing their minimum viable product / service with positive feedback from their target customer base or are already selling their product / service.
What can Uptima’s business partnership network provide to Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams?
Our business partners can provide access to additional business and legal support, networking, discounts for business services, vending and sales opportunities, and funding for your business.
What does it mean to become a member-owner of Uptima?
Becoming a member of Uptima Business Bootcamp means you become a part of a cooperative community that invests in each other, shares in our profits, and has a say in how we are run.
Are Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams eligible to become member-owners of Uptima?
All Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams who complete the program are eligible to become member-owners of Uptima Business Bootcamp. Worker Cooperative Fellowship Teams who are interested in becoming member-owners will need to go through the membership process.
What happens after the Worker Cooperative Fellowship?
As Worker Cooperative Fellowship Team, you will receive a free lifelong membership in our Alumni Network, which provides graduates of our programs with an ongoing connection to the Uptima community. Alumni Network members have access to advanced training workshops to help you refresh your business plans and gain additional skills to grow your business and community impact, as well as discounts to our business advising services and special offers from our partner network.