Small cooperatives which are active in various different business sectors, have emerged alongside large cooperatives. As a private individual, you can set up an employee-owned cooperative, through which you can offer your services. If you already have a company, it may establish a collaborative cooperative with other companies. It can also get involved in a work pool or a cooperative of an educational institution.
An employee-owned cooperative is company owned by its employees. Its members offer their work input and expertise to external customers. A cooperative might be focused on one or mutually complementary business sectors or consist of experts in various industries.
If an employee-owned cooperative has at least seven members, you are not in the position of an entrepreneur but work as a paid employee, even if you are one of the owners. As an employee you can receive employees' unemployment benefits during periods of unemployment. Therefore, it is easier to work on a part-time or temporary basis in the cooperative. However, you should always check with the TE Office whether you are entitled to unemployment benefits.
Employee-owned cooperatives also include the so-called EBO cooperatives, the name of which stands for Employee Buy Out. In EBOs, employees continue a business as a cooperative, when the entrepreneur retires or gives up the business for other reasons.
Your company can set up a cooperative together with other companies. Through the cooperative, the companies can cooperate in various sectors of their business activities and provide each other services in their own sector.
Your company can cooperate with other companies, for example, in the following:
- acquisitions and investments
- advertising and marketing
- centralised sales work
- hiring a shared employee
- construction of a joint quality system
- participation in greater competition
- arranging training days and activities to maintain work ability.
Through cooperation, all cooperative companies can save costs and benefit from each other's competence. It also allows companies to improve their competitiveness and extend their networks.
The cooperative should have a clear and jointly set goal, which benefits all member companies. All member companies should commit to cooperation and trust each other. The cooperation can be managed by a company or a person hired for the position.
Your company can set up a cooperative work pool or join one as a member. With the work pool, your company and other businesses can even out peak periods by recruiting and training workers for the necessary tasks.
Employees can take turns to work in the work pool companies, depending on the need. For example, if your company manufactures ice cream, it may have a need for additional labour in the summer, while in the winter it may manage with fewer employees. Another company in the work pool, such as a candle factory, may need additional workforce in the autumn and winter.
Your company and other companies in the work pool will have access to trained staff for their needs. Jobs can be chained so that you always have access to the same familiar employees. The employment relationship takes place always between your company and the employee. In other words, the work pool does not work as an employer.
Many educational institutions use a co-operative as a learning environment for entrepreneurship studies. If you are a student, you can learn basic entrepreneurial skills as a member of the cooperative of your educational institution during your studies. In the cooperative, you can safely test your business idea, develop a network and lower the threshold to become an entrepreneur in the future.
If you already are an entrepreneur, your company can function as a sponsor for a cooperative used as a learning environment. You can support, guide and advise students in entrepreneurship and future problem situations. You can also give the students assignments related to your company that will benefit both the students and your business.