Platform Coops

An entrepreneurship online course

Zuhura Innovations Africa has entered into an exciting partnership with New School in New York and Mondragon Team Academy in Spain. We are the East and South African partner for facilitating the course. This is an emergency online course that was created to support the rising ecosystem of cooperative digital labour platforms in response to the mass unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has impacted low-income, working-class people and immigrants significantly. The hardest hit industries include workers in tourism, the arts, retail, and the informal sector.

This ad hoc entrepreneurship online course was created to help create platform cooperatives by introducing, incubating, and accelerating platform cooperatives.

One of the major goals of the course is to prepare to become cooperative platform entrepreneurs in the fast-growing gig economy. The course gives learners the opportunity to analyse and get involved with a generation of young leaders that is experimenting with innovative power-building strategies that are rooted in cooperative ownership of digital platforms.

The online course is offered in two parts. The first part is an introduction to the gig economy, blueprints for political imaginaries, an introduction to cooperatives, and case studies of platform co-ops. The second part focuses on the incubation of platform co-ops and will be offered in collaboration with Zuhura Innovations Africa.

As the local partners, Zuhura will incubate the students guided by an established syllabus. Partners have full discretion to adapt the material in accordance with their capacity, also taking into consideration local specificities (co-op laws, needs, etc).

The course is designed for people who:

·   Are unemployed and are determined to find decent work, especially in the service sector.

·   Want to work in a dignified digital work environment where they co-own and co-govern

the digital platform through which they are connected to clients.

·   Are in cooperatives and want to transition them into platform cooperatives.

 

Relevance of the course in Kenya

One in every five Kenyan is a member of a cooperative society. Kenya is considered a model for cooperative movements, ranking seventh best globally. Kenya was recognised by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), as having the fastest growing subsection in the cooperatives industry, that is, the Saccos.

For Sacco’s and cooperatives to remain relevant in the 21st century, they have to embrace new technology. Cooperatives represent 10 per cent of the world’s employment. With a growing youth population, Saccos and cooperatives need to find ways to remain relevant. Millennials are tech-savvy. Therefore, the digitisation of the Saccos will give them a competitive edge in the digital world.

With Kenya being in the forefront of the cooperative movement, the relevance of the course is even more significant. This will help to bring a younger audience into the cooperative movement. Kenya should be able to leverage the advantage of being advanced in the cooperative sector and being the silicon savanna in Africa. 

The 2nd edition

With the extent of the pandemic, and the success of the course with the first cohort, the second edition was deemed necessary. It started on October 26, 2020, with over 300 participants from around the world and ends on March 15, 2021.

The course was an in-person cost at the New School in New York being provided at $4,000 that is (about Ksh400, 000). The emergency online version is provided at a significantly subsidised cost for some countries. This enables cooperatives all over the world to shift from a “shared economy” to a more participatory, democratically owned economy.