Starting a business via a cooperative
A cooperative is also a way to create your company. Rebecca Maroko, co-founder of Ouni, explains the main aspects:
- finding co-founders
- the idea of a co-op
- the legal aspect
- being accompanied to make it happen
Rebecca Maroko is the co-founder of Ouni, the first zero-waste local shop in Luxembourg. Discover more about their values and their products on http://ouni.lu.
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It all started with one person realizing “I’m so tired of going to supermarkets, the place isn’t… the supermarket experience I want.” She talked about it with other people and quickly realized that lots of people were thinking the same thing. And they talked to others and found lots of people interested in taking part in creating the project, and putting time and energy into it. There were 7 of us, which is the minimum for a co-op.
The idea of a co-op
Once we realized how much interest there was, we got the idea for a co-op. The fact that lots of people wanted to contribute to the project each with their set of skills, we wanted to include them in the project.
The legal aspect
A cooperative is also an SARL, but the difference is the power of the bodies I mentioned, so the power of the board of directors, the members’ assembly… That’s why our status is a bit hard to grasp since some people think it’s an association or non-profit, but it’s not. We can’t receive subsidies or aids because we are a trade company.
Being accompanied to make it happen
We had high expectations and the 1,2,3 Go Social program by nyuko now Impuls, really brought us a lot. First, we were looking for framework, support, having them follow and help us, show us the way. Because when you’re starting from a blank page, from nothing, it’s hard to know where to start. So at least some orderliness comes with the accompaniment, you also get the right people, the network, and especially examples of fellow entrepreneurs that help give you an idea. Like handy tips that help get your project off the ground. Entrepreneurs need to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs. I think that’s a pretty key message.
Crowd-funding suited the co-op concept perfectly. To this point, we’ve funded the project by selling cooperative shares: if you buy one share for 100 euros you become a member. We were able to raise funds to open the two stores that way.