entreprenuers

At Spain’s Door, a Welcome Mat for Entrepreneurs | The New York Times

The New York Times recently reported on a 2013 Spanish law hoping to boost entrepreneurship:

Ms. Carr, 42, a Californian who has traveled extensively in Europe, long dreamed of living and working there. But as the founder of a start-up company and as an American citizen, she assumed that it would be “next to impossible” to get a work permit at a time when many European economies were struggling to rebound from the financial crisis.

Then she learned of a law that Spain’s government passed in September 2013 to help domestic businesses and to woo foreign talent and investment. It included a visa category for foreign entrepreneurs, requiring them to have little more than a government-vetted business plan, health insurance and enough money to support themselves while living in Spain.

“I thought the entrepreneurship visa was exactly what I needed,” she said.

Read the article, “At Spain’s Door, a Welcome Mat for Entrepreneurs.”

Mondragon and National Cooperative Bank Partner in Growing Domestic Worker-Owned Cooperatives

For Release: Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Laboral Kutxa (the Mondragon Bank) and National Cooperative Bank (NCB) to Partner in Growing Domestic Worker-Owned Cooperatives 

NCB & Laboral Kutxa Form Precedent-Setting USA Collaboration

Memorandum of Understanding Signed on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

The world’s largest industrial, worker-owned and run cooperative, Mondragon, founded in the Basque region of Spain over fifty-five years ago and winner of the 2013 Financial Times “Boldness in Business” award has agreed through its cooperative bank, Laboral Kutxa, to partner and build cooperative stakeholder businesses in local living economies throughout America with the U.S.-based National Cooperative Bank headquartered in Washington, D.C.

For the first time in their respective operating histories, both Mondragon’s Laboral Kutxa and National Cooperative Bank (NCB) will collaborate to support each other’s banking customers including subsidiaries of cooperatives operating in the United States belonging to the Mondragon Group. Predicated on similar “doing well by doing good” principles, social responsibility values, and a growing understanding that cooperative markets extend beyond borders, both entities pledge to support each other’s customers with regard to charges, payments, financial services, online banking systems, and other commercial banking practices.

National Cooperative Bank fulfills its singular mandate to strengthen America’s cooperatives, their members and other socially responsible organizations through the delivery of social impact banking products and services.  NCB’s customers are cooperatives such as grocery wholesaler co-ops, food co-ops, purchasing co-ops, credit unions and housing co-ops who share in the spirit of joining and working cooperatively to meet personal, social, and business needs.  Headquartered in Washington, DC, NCB has offices in Alaska, California, New York, Ohio and Virginia.

Laboral Kutxa of Mondragon, the financial cooperative arm of the Mondragon Group, is a cooperative bank fielding 450 branches with over 1,300,000 customers.  Mondragon is the world’s largest worker-owned industrial cooperative but also the top Basque region industrial group, ranked tenth in Spain with 80,000 personnel, a presence in 70 countries, and expanding operations across the U.S. and North America.

The NCBLaboral Kutxa Memorandum of Understanding frames the general terms and conditions for the cooperation between both parties, based on subjecting each future transaction to a specific contract with market-driven competitive performance goals.  This partnership intends to exchange best practices and experiences in social and solidarity-oriented high impact lending and to support international initiatives for the accelerated development and promotion of the global cooperative sector.

This agreement represents Mondragon’s first international financial sector agreement but second precedent-setting U.S. collaboration during the past four years.  Announced in late October, 2009, with an extensively researched structural template provided in March, 2012, North America’s leading manufacturing union, the United Steelworkers, and Mondragon International agreed to develop a hybrid union co-op model that is currently adopted by multiple U.S. unions and underway in over ten U.S. cities with projects ranging from an organic sustainable farm to a commercial laundry to energy efficiency. To buttress this initiative,  Mondragon International USA has partnered with the Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC) and The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law’s Community Economic Development (CED) Clinic to create reusable union-coop business templates and communities of practice with the Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative (CUCI) illustrating the leading metropolitan success story to date.

Both Mondragon’s partnership with National Cooperative Bank through the Mondragon Bank, Laboral Kutxa, and its union-coop model collaboration with the United Steelworkers reflect the ten basic principles that Mondragon co-operatives have put into practice during the past fifty-five plus years (open admission, democratic organization, sovereignty of labor, instrumental and subordinate nature of capital, participation in management, wage solidarity, inter-cooperation, and education).  Fully compatible with the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, the National Cooperative BankLaboral Kutxa partnership intends to promote investments and businesses essential for revitalizing local productive economies and renewing community prosperity.

In the U.S. alone, member-owned organizations account for $3 trillion in assets, $500 billion in revenue, and more than one million jobs.  Specifically, the United States fields 29,000 cooperatives holding 350 million co-op memberships and consisting of 900 rural electric coops with 42 million clients in 47 states, two million farmer-members in 3000 farmer-owned cooperatives who provide over 250 thousand jobs and annual wages of $8 billion, 250 purchasing coops offering group buying and sharing to more than 50,000 independent businesses, 7500 credit unions providing financial services to nearly 90 million members, and circa 8000 housing coops providing one million homes.  Mondragon’s recent annual sales in North America have reached the $250 million level.

About National Cooperative Bank (NCBwww.ncb.coop): NCB fulfills its singular mandate to strengthen America’s cooperatives, their members and other socially responsible organizations through the delivery of social impact banking products and services.  NCB’s customers are cooperatives such as grocery wholesaler co-ops, food co-ops, purchasing co-ops, credit unions and housing co-ops who share in the spirit of joining and working cooperatively to meet personal, social, and business needs.  In 2012, NCB provided nearly $1.4 billion in loans to cooperative and community organizations across the United States of which $232 million served low-moderate income communities.  Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Bank has offices in Alaska, California, New York, Ohio and Virginia.  Recent transactions include a $30 million first mortgage to Amalgamated Housing Cooperative in New York City’s Bronx Borough, the oldest limited equity housing cooperative in the United States, and a $4.7 million term loan to Wheatsville Food Co-op in Austin, Texas, with 12,000 consumer-owners.  Chartered by the 95th U.S. Congress in 1978, NCB was privatized in 1981 as a member-owned financial institution. Since then, NCB has been structured as a financial cooperative and all capital stock has been owned by borrowers or entities eligible to borrow from NCB.

About Laboral Kutxa (www.laboralkutxa.com): Laboral Kutxa, created in 1959 currently fields 450 branches with over 1,300,000 customers whose deposits ($24 billion in 2012) and loans ($20 billion in 2012) contribute to the bank’s total assets of $31 billion (2012) and $70 million in profits (Q2/2013).  Laboral Kutxa is the financial cooperative arm of the Mondragon Group (“Humanity At Work” through Cooperation, Participation, Social Responsibility and Innovation) with 2,235 worker-owners.   Mondragon is the world’s largest worker-owned industrial cooperative but also the top Basque region industrial group, ranked tenth in Spain with 80,000 personnel, a presence in 70 countries, and winner of the 2013 Financial Times “Boldness in Business” award. Mondragon’s more than fifty-five year old mission is to generate wealth for society through business development and job creation under the “one worker, one vote” cooperative framework where labor is sovereign and capital, while essential, is subordinate to sustainable job creation. As the second largest credit cooperative in both the Basque region and Spain but ranking first in customer satisfaction and service quality, Laboral Kutxa is one of the three founding pillars of the Mondragon Group’s domestic and global unparalleled growth and success as defined by Mondragon principles.  Under the Mondragon framework, Laboral Kutxa’s workers are partners and therefore have a share in the ownership and the distribution of profits while also participating in management and management decisions.”

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Media Contact: Mondragon International USA/Michael A. Peck, mpeck@mapagroup.net, TEL (202) 412-2499 or National Cooperative Bank/Mary Alex Blantonmblanton@ncb.coop, TEL (703) 302-8876  

Judo Inequality

“Think about it this way. We’re killing people in foreign lands in order to extract 200-million-year-old sunlight. Then we burn it . . . in order to boil water to create steam to drive a turbine to generate electricity. We frack our own backyards and pollute our rivers, or we blow up our mountaintops just miles from our nation’s capital for an hour of electricity, when we could just take what’s falling free from the sky.”

– Sungevity founder, Danny Kennedy –

From “The Secret to Solar Power,” (New York Times, August 9, 2012), by Jeff Himmelman

Subconsciously but in good conscience, Danny Kennedy has framed a solar version of the new “Judo Economy” paradigm. In his “Judo Economy” energy framework, massive amounts of naturally incoming energy are reflected and redirected without impacting and hollowing out the earth’s layered crust, breaking up shale formations, absorbing and contaminating fresh water supplies, or inciting earthquake and volcanic instability. Naturally occurring momentum is deployed as a positive force to society’s advantage as opposed to boxing with the inevitable and unmovable, absorbing one crushing body blow after another. (more…)

The corporate ‘predator state’ | The Washington Post

By Katrina vanden Heuvel

Bipartisan agreement in Washington usually means citizens should hold on to their wallets or get ready for another threat to peace. In today’s politics, the bipartisan center usually applauds when entrenched interests and big money speak. Beneath all the partisan bickering, bipartisan majorities are solid for a trade policy run by and for multinationals, a health-care system serving insurance and drug companies, an energy policy for Big Oil and King Coal, and finance favoring banks that are too big to fail.

Economist James Galbraithcalls this the “predator state,” one in which large corporate interests rig the rules to protect their subsidies, tax dodges and monopolies. This isn’t the free market; it’s a rigged market.

Wall Street is a classic example. The attorney general announces that some banks are too big to prosecute. Despite what the FBI called an “epidemic of fraud,” not one head of a big bank has gone to jail or paid a major personal fine. Bloomberg News estimated that the subsidy they are provided by being too big to fail adds up to an estimated $83 billion a year.

Corporate welfare is, of course, offensive to progressives. The Nation and other media expose the endless outrages — drug companies getting Congress to ban Medicare negotiating bulk discounts on prices, Big Oil protecting billions in subsidies, multinationals hoarding a couple of trillion dollars abroad to avoid paying taxes, and much more. (more…)

Meet the New Left: Small-Business Owners | The Nation

By William Greider

A promising new force is finding its voice in progressive politics, though it is still widely ignored or misunderstood. These overlooked progressives are small-business owners and entrepreneurs who are not usually confused with left-wing activists. It does seem improbable: roughly half of small-business people are Republicans, only a third or so identify themselves as Democrats, and some certainly fit the old stereotype. The GOP idolizes business folks as free-market, small-government conservatives. On the left, they are frequently dismissed as small-minded right-wingers.

But if you listen to them more closely, you will hear jarring expressions of distinctly liberal opinions. And they express salty disgust for the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, which claim to speak for the little guys on Main Street. Actually, these little guys accuse the US Chamber and the NFIB of identity theft.

The American Sustainable Business Council, along with several other like-minded groups, is determined to counter this corporate-financed propaganda by enabling small-business owners to speak for themselves. Simple as that may sound, it has great potential to alter political alignments and clear the way for a future economy based on very different principles and values. The old stereotype has lost its relevance. (more…)

Pivoting a City: Can Startups Help More Than Themselves? | The Atlantic

by Alexis Madrigal

Pittsburgh has proven fertile soil for new companies, but the startup mentality may meet its match in a real town’s legacy problems. 

Pittsburgh is a great place to investigate the possibilities of a start-up led urban resurgence because of all the cities between the coast and Chicago, it’s the one that’s farthest along the path towards techdom. It’s got a world-leading research institution that focuses on artificial intelligence. Because the steel mills collapsed so quickly and so thoroughly, its leaders were forced to put together a long-term plan for the city’s future. (more…)

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