Hacking Traditional Capitalist Financing Tools for Rapid Cooperative Growth

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We can use traditional and emerging capitalist tools to rapidly grow cooperatives.


Termaine embraced the capitalist economy as he worked for a company that invests in fish farming. This work changed the way he looked at wealth and business in America. He is business trained and feels our primary weakness, as a society, is money

A utopia outside of capitalism is possible, but how do we use the tools that exist now to make our utopia?

  • We can use the tools designed for capitalists for our own benefit. For example
    • Uber: capitalist model
      • The capitalist modes of production are naturally exploitative. The worker makes a certain amount of money, therefore they’re worth a certain amount of money—this is arbitrary
      • Startup ecosystem: How do these startups fundraise? Venture capitalists/angel investors It takes thousands of venture capitalists to startup a company like Uber
    • Capitalists have taken the model of cooperation and made it their own—they’re cooperating better than we are, for instance Crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Indigogo, etc.)
      • Started by capitalists
      • This is one avenue in which people are willing to donate for a cause without the expectations of an equity investment
      • We should be using this to build our cooperatives

Profit in the traditional sense of the word is extractive

  • It always extracts value from somewhere
    • How can a for profit businesses be for the community when they’re naturally extractive? These businesses must undervalue workers
  • Profit can be problematic no matter what system we’re in
    • But, where does the profit go? Back to the community or in the hands of investors?
  • It’s okay to make money—it’s a common motivator among all of us
    • Nobody wants to be poor
    • Profits distributed back to the community are, overall, beneficial

What is the end game?

  • More cooperatives operating in the US?
  • Stop looking at specifics and focus on the end goal Until we live in a world outside of capitalism, we have to build on top of it
  • Mainstreet Employee Ownership Act
    • Now, employees can use the company as collateral instead of Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). ESOPs  are governed by retirement law
    • Better financing: ESOPs expensive
    • Not many businesses are funded by banks
      • Those that are funded by banks have a set process
      • Profitable businesses are typically easier to acquire loans for (conversion funding) Can get a loan from a bank to buy an existing company and control all of the shares. As loans get paid back, shares go back to the employees
    • Cooperatives are less risky than capitalist models, What does this mean for cooperatives?
      • Cooperatives will have access to the same funding that small businesses have access to
      • Same loan guarantees