In so many ways, this has been a year (not) to remember. Even so, there have also been times that have made our mouths smile and our hearts fill with pride. So, we would like to take a moment and highlight the positive changes that happened for us and our family of projects during 2020.
Cooperatives have always been particularly adept at pivoting, but this year pivoting the ways of meeting and conducting business became essential. Many of our food sector co-ops, like Red Emma’s and Taharka Brothers, altered their operation models. They added home delivery and/or switched to take-out only. Likewise, Thread Coffee opted to close their cafe entirely and focus exclusively on wholesale and direct-to consumer sales. Mera Kitchen Collective, known for their catering, had to make a pivot as well. They teamed up with Alma Cocina Latina and World Central Kitchen to offer free meals. To date they have cooked and served over ninety thousand completely free meals to communities around the city.
We are happy to be able to say that all of our projects have been able to remain open in some capacity. Some projects were even able to see an uptick in business. For example, Baltimore Bicycle Works had an increase in bike sales; Taharka Brothers increased sales when the option of home delivery was added.
Changes within BRED itself also took place. As a technical assistance provider, not being able to be in close contact with our coops and visit them onsite was a big change. All of our meetings moved to Zoom. We streamlined our online disbursal and loan application process. And we learned a lot about how to effectively build and maintain close relationships in a largely digital space.
Our public programming and training moved online as well, and we offered two series of webinars this spring and summer: Introduction to Cooperative Conversions and Co-op 101. We’ve doubled down on these online training modules. Working with one of our staff members, we created self-directed digital versions of our Coop Jumpstart tools, which will be released in early 2021. Last, we welcomed a current project officer to our staff collective, and we hired a new full time staff member.
BRED took on several new projects this year in varying stages, from infancy to established. Some of our proudest moments are when we can help a traditional business transition to an employee own cooperative business. Three businesses went through this process with us this year: Taharka Brothers, Appalachian Field Services, and Joe Squared. We are so happy to welcome them into our cooperative family.
Last but not least, we brought new investment into Baltimore City! BRED made our first $1M investment this year, and surpassed $3M in non-extractive loans made over the last five years.
There is still a lot of work to do in the new year to dismantle the corporate world. We are proud to be a leader in creating a cooperative ecosystem in Baltimore and will continue to uplift this work and contribute to the community of Baltimore City. Happy New Year!
We are bringing you two events this month. ‘Co-op 101’ and ‘A Brief Introduction to Cooperative Conversions and Employee Buyout’.
Have you ever wondered what a cooperative is, or what it would be like to start your own cooperative? Co-op 101 is the perfect workshop for you. Spend an hour learning about the in’s and out’s of worker-owned cooperative businesses. We will have a conversation about legal structures and capital, pro’s and con’s, and the differences between these flexible forms of doing business. You will leave wanting to put what you’ve learned to work!
Our Brief Introduction to Cooperative Conversions and Employee Buyout workshop is geared towards small business owners. In the time of COVID-19, small business owners might be pondering ways to preserve their business legacy as they approach retirement. You might be considering a career change, but want to leave your business to people who are competent and already invested in the welfare of the business.
Cooperative conversions – selling a business to its employees – are an increasingly compelling option to retain jobs and keep small businesses in their communities. We will lead you through the steps of this process, and answer questions about whether an employee buyout might be right for your business.
During the session we discussed the in’s and out’s of selling a small business to it’s employees and covered many topics including:
Why are so many small business owners selling their businesses to their workers?
Most small businesses never find an outside buyer. Without a worker-buyout, your customers lose their brand of choice and your community loses critical economic activity. The longest-serving and most loyal of your workers will be the least likely to find a comparable livelihood elsewhere. When a larger competitor does buy a business, they usually lay off most or all of the workers and dissolve the enterprise. And your legacy disappears!
Why are worker-owned businesses better?
Worker-owned businesses have higher productivity, lower worker turnover, and their profits stay in the community. Workers adopt more global perspectives on their workplace and the welfare of their co-workers and their customers, and engage broader concerns and policy issues about the future of their market, their industrial sector, the larger economy, and the environment. Worker-ownership fosters more engaged citizenship. And your legacy lives on!
Why are governments incentivizing worker buy-outs? What are those incentives?
Aging baby boomers own a large percentage of small businesses, and they’re now looking to retire. Without worker buy-outs, most of these businesses, their jobs, and their other economic activity, will be lost. Worker buy-outs can also deliver significant tax breaks to the seller, and the Small Business Administration is expanding their lending options to support worker buy-outs.
Why should I attend the workshop on selling my business and exploring employee ownership?
You will get answers to all of your questions about selling to your workers, and we will lead you through the steps involved in doing it. These include overall exploratory process and strategy, ownership and management succession planning, financing options, legal and structural angles, and much more! The Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy is a non-extractive lender that finances worker-buyouts; its members include experienced worker-owners skilled in converting businesses to worker-ownership and supporting workers and owners in making the transition.
Discover if an employee buyout is right for your business in a free virtual workshop hosted by the BRED Loan Fund.
In the time of COVID-19 many small business owners are considering their options. Some owners are contemplating selling or even closing their businesses. If you are one of those owners, we have something just for you.
Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy is holding a free online workshop. It will focus on presenting you with practical strategies to sell your business to a trusted buyer (your employees) in order to continue serving your community.
During this workshop you will get answers to your questions about selling to your workers.
We will lead you through the steps involved in the process, including:
The Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy is a non-extractive business lender that finances worker-buyouts – its members include experienced worker-owners skilled in converting businesses to worker ownership and supporting workers and owners in making the transition.