Financial resources for the current crisis

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143707811@N07/49629062018 License: CC-BY

We’re now deep into the COVID-19 crisis, and a lot of people are struggling. Here are some resources you can use to get a loan or a grant to see your business through these hard times. 

Even as we were writing this, the first two examples we were writing about, the national programs, were suspended due to a shortage of funds. Fortunately, they are far from the only sources of help. 

The Paycheck Protection Program from the Small Business Administration (SBA). This is a fee-free loan that will be fully forgiven if 75% of it is spent on payroll (and the rest on rent or mortgages, and utilities). As of Thursday, this program had been suspended due to lack of appropriations.

The Emergency Injury Disaster Loan Advance. This loan advance is for up to $10,000, and does not need to be repaid. As of Thursday, this program had been suspended due to lack of appropriations.

Shared Capital Cooperative exists specifically to finance co-ops. They are offering emergency loans for up to $50,000.

Kiva-Madison provides no-free, no-interest loans through crowdfunding. MCDC is a Kiva trustee. In addition, MCDC has a loan matching fund, so you only have to crowdfund half the amount you want to raise (i.e., you’d only have to raise $7500 to get a loan of $15,000).

The Dane County Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program, administered by Dane Buy Local. This grant program will give between $1000 and $50,000 for employee retention and loss mitigation. Also see the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce’s comprehensive list of COVID-19 information for businesses.

Additionally, MCDC has a longstanding relationship with the Madison Development Corporation, which is the organization that manages our cooperative loan fund. If you would like a loan from them, we can connect you to them.

We are here for you — please, let us know how we can be helpful during these challenging times. We can connect you to local or national resources for support, information, and resource-sharing. And, for those who might have extra time on your hands, we could help fill that time with training for new or existing co-ops, or technical assistance support. We may not be able to see you in person, but we recognize what you are going through.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Charity with any questions or ideas, or just to say hello: charity.schmidt@wisc.edu.


Sticking together in times of social distancing

Right now, most of us are Safer at Home. It seems odd to show solidarity with people by staying away from them. That doesn’t feel like helping. But it is. 

This time really serves as a reminder that for each of us to remain healthy, we need others to remain healthy as well. Trying to look after our own health to the exclusion of others isn’t just selfish, it’s ineffective. And that goes for other indicators of well-being as well. We can’t thrive if the rest of our community is struggling. We rise or fall together. 

With that in mind, you can support local businesses from home. You can also join a Facebook group of neighbors who are directly supporting each other. Or you can simply call neighbors and loved ones to check in on them.

Mutual aid of this kind isn’t fancy or showy, but it makes a big difference. It’s how we’re going to get through this. 

And here’s another way to practice mutual aid: Kiva loans. Kiva is an established crowdfunding platform for small businesses around the world, and also right here at home. Kiva loans have no fees and an interest rate of zero, and businesses have three years to pay off the loan. Even better, Kiva recently made three significant improvements to its program:

  1. Expanded eligibility: More businesses in the US will be eligible for a Kiva loan than ever.
  2. Larger loans: The maximum loan on the Kiva platform will increase from $10,000 to $15,000.
  3. Grace period: New borrowers have a grace period of up to 6 months for greater financial flexibility.

Better still, MCDC will match Kiva loans dollar-for-dollar up $7500 for cooperatives, also at zero interest! 

Co-ops (both existing and in development) are encouraged to apply for a Kiva loan to see them through any economic shortfall they may be experiencing, or to use this time for development. And if you’re not in a co-op, watch this space for ways you can support your friends who are. We’ll support the campaigns of co-ops that apply for Kiva loans.

These are tough times, but we’ll get through them by leaning on each other. Stay home, stay healthy, and stay hopeful.

Please send comments or questions to charity.schmidt@wisc.edu


Good news, bad news

Some of the attendees at the Regional Rendezvous

First, the good news: the Regional Rendezvous was a big success! We had around 60 people, with some coming from as far away as Minnesota, Illinois, and even Montana. We’ll discuss it in more detail in the next newsletter.

The bad news, as you already know, is that the coronavirus is now a pandemic, and nearly everything is closing or being postponed. MCDC is no exception. All public events we had scheduled through the end of April are cancelled. Specifically, the Financing Your Co-op session on April 7, Co-ops 101 on the 14th, and the Spanish session tentatively scheduled for the 28th are all cancelled. There are upcoming sessions for all of these later in the season, so you haven’t missed your only chance to attend.

We encourage you to stay home and stay safe. In-person meetings are not going to be possible for weeks to come, but you can still reach us by email. If you are in a co-op in development (or would like to be), email Charity any time at charity.schmidt@wisc.edu.

We’ll get through this the way we’ve always gotten through hard times — by cooperating.


The Regional Rendezvous (featuring Co-ops 101) is approaching fast!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African proverb).
Image from SVG SILH, CC0.

It’s less than a week until the Regional Rendezvous! We hope you can join worker-cooperators from across the upper Midwest for a day and a half of discussions, tours, and socializing. If you can’t be there for the whole thing, that’s no problem — come for as much as you can. Here’s the agenda (if you can’t see it, visit madworc.org):

MCDC will be giving our Co-ops 101 presentation at noon on Wednesday, and lunch will be provided! As the name indicates, it’s a great introduction to worker co-ops, and this time, there will be worker cooperators from several states present to provide even more information and context.

If you know you’ll be there, please send us an RSVP to help us arrange food. However, you can still decide to show up at the last second. Either way, we’d love to see you there!


Start a worker co-op with MCDC’s help! And also come to the first Regional Rendezvous!

Charity, presenting at a Co-ops 101 not long ago. Photo by MCDC.

Worker cooperatives…

  • … build skills, earning potential, and assets.
  • … create meaningful change for communities affected by inequality.
  • … are designed to improve on low-wage jobs through workplace democracy.

To learn more, come to Co-ops 101!

  • When: Wednesday, March 11th, 12-1:30 pm
  • Where: Room 301, Central Public Library, 201 Mifflin St., Madison
  • Plus: we’ll provide lunch!

Learn more about MCDC at www.mcdcmadison.org

But wait, there’s more!

This time, Co-ops 101 will take place during Madison’s first “Regional Rendezvous,” a gathering of worker-cooperators and supporters from across the upper Midwest. All day on the 11th and the morning of the 12th, there will be tours, presentations, panel discussions, and a social gathering. It’s free and (mostly) open to the public.

More details at https://madworc.org/


You deserve a co-op! And dinner.

What would it would be like if your workplace operated democratically? What if every worker was also an owner? Well, we can tell you all about it — it’s called a worker co-op. You deserve to work in one.

MCDC has the expertise to walk you through the process of starting one (or converting an existing business into one), and we also have grants to help you access even more expertise. Come listen to our presentation over your lunch hour. We’ll provide the food!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 6:00 – 7:30 PM.

Goodman South Madison Library, Madison Public Library, 2222 S Park St Ste 100, Madison, Wisconsin 53713

For more information, write steve@social.coop.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Upcoming MCDC presentations

First, please spread the word that our most RFP for community-based organizations has been released. There is up to $30,000 available per organization in this competitive process. Read more here.

Now, on to our main announcement: our next Co-ops 101 presentation is in less than two weeks. And while we’re at it, here are the dates for all our presentations through June! We will continue to tell people why they might want to work in a business they own and operate, but we’re now increasing the number of sessions in Spanish and adding our third language, Hmong. Also, we’ll have two panel discussions on financing, and one specialized presentation on co-ops in manufacturing and engineering. Please forward this schedule to friends who might be interested! Thanks!

Worker Cooperatives 101
Goodman South Public Library

Worker Cooperatives 101
Hawthorne Public Library

Financing Your Worker Cooperative
6:00 pm-7:30
Central Public Library, Room 301

Worker Cooperatives 101
Goodman South Public Library

Introducción a las cooprerativas de trabajo (Co-ops 101 in Spanish)

Co-ops 101 for Manufacturing and Engineering
Isthmus Engineering

Worker Cooperatives 101
Hawthorne Public Library

Worker Cooperatives 101 in Hmong

Financing Your Worker Cooperative
Central Public Library, Room 302

Introducción a las cooperativas de trabajo (Co-ops 101 in Spanish)
Meadowridge Public Library


The latest RFP for community-based organizations is out!

If you belong to a local non-profit or other community-based organization that wants to integrate worker-cooperative development into its work, you will want to download MCDC’s latest RFP. This is a competitive process for grants up to $30,000.

It is not necessary for your organization to have done co-op development in the past — our purpose is help get you started.

We are accepting proposals starting immediately, until February 17th. Proposals received on time will be considered by a panel of experts, and we will do everything we can to announce the results within six weeks.

For further details, download the PDF: http://www.mcdcmadison.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2020-CBO-Application.pdf.

We look forward to reading your proposal!


¡Se posterga le presentación de mañana!

Debido a unas complicaciones, se nos obligó postergar la presentación de mañana, “Una introducción a las cooperativas”. Les avisaremos de la nueva fecha lo antes posible. Disculpen la molestia.

Due to certain complications, we have found it necessary to postpone tomorrow’s presentation, “Co-ops 101 in Spanish.” We will publicize the new date as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Una introducción a las cooperativas de trabajo

English follows.

Una cosa que probamos con éxito el año pasado fue hacer nuestras presentaciones sobre las cooperativas de trabajo en español. En este año lo vamos a hacer varias veces. La primera será el 25 de enero.

Hay muchas razones para formar una cooperativa de trabajo, o convertir una empresa existente en una cooperativa de trabajo. Los trabajadores-dueños suelen ser pagados más que los empleados tradicionales en el mismo sector, quedarse en sus trabajos por más tiempo, y tener mejores condiciones laborales. Hay otros beneficios que son menos tangibles, también, tales como el empoderamiento que viene de la participación en un sitio de trabajo democrático.

Si éstas le parecen buenas razones, venga a aprender más.

Una introducción a las cooperativas de trabajo

Donde: Centro Hispano

Cuando: sábado, el 25 de enero a las 9:00 AM

Y también: habrá café y un refrigerio

One thing we tested out successfully last year was doing our Co-ops 101 presentations in Spanish. This year, we will be repeating that several times. The first time will be January 25th.

There are many reasons to start a worker co-op, or convert an existing business into a worker co-op. Worker-owners tend to be paid better than traditional employees, stay in their jobs longer, and have better working conditions. There are also other benefits that are less tangible, such as the empowerment that comes from participating in a democratic workplace.

If these reasons sound good to you, come learn more.

Co-ops 101 (in Spanish)

Where: Centro Hispano

When: Saturday, January 25th, at 9:00

Also: there will be coffee and snacks