An immigrant-led co-operative in New York is aiming to turn the city’s cleaners into a team of entrepreneurs.
Brightly Cleaning is adopting a McDonald’s-style business model and uniting thousands of small business-owners under a shared brand.
The New York-based non-profit company Co-opportunity is acting as a corporate overlord, providing its members with marketing, training and online scheduling tools. In return it collects five per cent of all gross sales which it says goes towards administrative costs.
The aim of the worker-owned co-operative is to make it easier for cleaners to start their own businesses, allowing them to become owners without having to make a large initial outlay.
“We decided that the worker-owners can be an engine of change and can own the economy in their own way,” said Julia Jean-François, co-executive director of the Center for Family Life which helped to launch Brightly. “We turned the franchise model on its head and decided it should be owned by the workers themselves, not by an individual who would profit from them.”
Co-opportunity is governed by its members with all decision-making carried out on a “one worker, one vote” basis.
Immigrants currently account for around one in six US workers and are the country’s fastest-growing segment of worker-owners, according to the Democracy at Work Institute.
New York currently has five Brightly locations which are manned by dozens of worker-owners and have more than 1,000 customers. And they are said to be driving approximately a million dollars in sales.
 
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