CO-OP Dayton launching social enterprise incubator

October 22, 2019

Applications are open for CO-OP Dayton’s new Cooperative & Social Enterprise Incubator, launching in 2020!

“For the past two years, we’ve been assisting co-op entrepreneurs on case-by-case basis,” CO-OP Dayton Project Manager Rachel Meketon said. “This gives us the opportunity to serve more co-op entrepreneurs more effectively.”

Entrepreneur teams of at least three members are invited to apply to participate in this new incubator, which aims to support the creation and launch of new cooperative businesses or social enterprises. Potential founders will complete market research, create a business plan, pilot their product or service & seek funding to launch. Between five & 10 project teams will be accepted.

“Co-ops are more accountable to the community,” Rachel said. “There is no outside stakeholder that has power over the co-op or can reap profit from the co-op. There is both accountability and shared wealth and wealth-building.”

The incubator will launch in January 2020 & run for seven months. Teams will attend two workshops per month — one Saturday intensive workshop and one weekday evening workshop — to develop the business plan & complete market research. Teams will also schedule at least two team meetings to complete workshop assignments.

Throughout the incubator, participants will receive guidance from experts, access to mentors, and assistance from local college students. As teams launch their enterprises or pilot programs, they’ll have continued support from the CO-OP Dayton team. Participants will also have a chance to pitch their new co-op or social enterprise at a community celebration & compete for cash & in-kind services from local business development organizations.

To qualify, projects must meet either one cooperative criteria — be a worked-owned business, community land trust or real estate cooperative, or community loan fund — or two social enterprise criteria — provide employment to disadvantaged people, offer transformative products with measurable social impact on disadvantaged communities, partner with a nonprofit, or revitalize a distressed neighborhood.

Projects may be at the ideation or startup stages. If at the ideation stage, founders must already agree on the mission, industry, target market and potential product or service of the enterprise.

Each team member must pay a $50 commitment fee up front — this fee will be refunded if the individual attends at least 75 percent of the sessions and participates in program evaluations.

Applications are due by midnight on Friday, Nov. 8. Applicants will be scheduled for 30-minute meetings with Co-Op Dayton and its partners between Nov. 11 & Nov. 20. Participants will be notified of acceptance on Monday, Dec. 2.

For more information, contact Rachel at 937-815-0344 or [email protected] or Kenya Baker at 937-674-3063 or [email protected].