From Cultivate.Coop

Why co-ops fail (and how to prevent failure)

Started from a workshop at the SAGE (Solidarity And Green Economy) Conference, Nov. 9-10, 2013 in Worcester, MA, USA.

Video from SAGE Workshop (part 1 coming soon)

Description: This fish-bowl style workshop brought an exciting range of presenters who have experienced failed co-ops. They shared their insights into why they failed and the group came up with some ideas of how the major issues will be prevented in the future. Future Focus Media Co-op filmed the workshop and it will be available online here as a resource for start-ups to learn from our mistakes.


Sam Toussaint, co-founder of Toxic Soil Busters Co-op (Webpage).

Scott Guzman from EMPOWER Energy Co-op.

Omar Freilla of Green Worker Co-ops (

Stacey Cordeiro of Boston Center for Community Ownership (

Dania Flores from Connections Co-op.

Facilitator: Matt Feinstein, Worcester Roots Project (, Stone Soup (, Worcester SAGE (

Topic 1: What happens when co-op members are not ready to be managers, don't have systems of accountability or self-management experience?

Topic 2: Were your worker co-ops sufficiently capitalized and have enough resources when they launched? Do co-ops usually have enough resources, what results when the don't?

Topic 3: What are pitfalls of working with large institutions or non-profits?  What effect does the non-profit industrial complex have on worker co-ops?  

Topic 4: Prevention: In addition to not doing the above, how do we prevent these things for happening?  What else does the co-op movement need? What are the role of co-op academies, incubators, co-op alliances, etc?