This year we’ve had the pleasure to get to know Jose – one of the Co Founders of Mondragon Team Academy (MTA). MTA along with The New School (New York), have convened the global Platform Co-operatives Now course. In our recent chat, we discussed the “global trends” around Platform Co-op’s and we found the Australian data is quite at odds with the rest of the world.
The Rest Of the World
Platform Co-operative’s are digital platforms that are owned by the people that use them (not just shareholders). In the corporate world, you have AirBnB.com and in the Platform Co-op world you have FairBnB.coop .
This type of business is really appealing to youth. Across the world, MTA courses are usually attended by youth (18 – 25).
These students undertake a degree in Team Entrepreneurship. This degree requires that for any individual to pass that their whole team (and co-created business) must pass. That’s right. You can’t pass a course in team entrepreneurship unless you all pass.
The people engaged in MTA degrees and by extension, the recent Platform Co-op’s Now courses that MTA, The New School, Incubator.coop (and 47 other partner organisations in countries across the world) run – are mostly younger people.
Australia doesn’t have a large cohort of young people interested in Platform Co-op’s (yet). Instead as you look across the Platform Co-operative sector, what you find is a lot of pioneering middle-aged women.
When speaking with Jose, we asked him why the global youth so eagerly engaged in the courses being run by a 70-year old Worker-owned Co-operative based out of regional Spain. He identified:
- Angst about the future of work;
- Uncertainty about climate impacts;
- Disgust in political process;
- Lost faith in capitalism;
- Want control of their life.
Australian Women Pioneers
In Australia, there’s some men, but the enthusiasts for Platform Co-operatives in Australia include majority middle-aged women. This list is by no means exhaustive and includes:
- Amy Orange, Dorthy Belperio, Jocelyn Hunter who are all on the Board of incubator.coop (A Platform Co-op itself with a mission to help founders create new Co-ops including Platform Co-op’s);
- Moira Were, Eddie Blass, Leesa Chesser, Kate Simpson of HenHouse.coop (A Platform Co-op with a mission to close the gender investment gap);
- Rebel Black, Shayne Miller, Kylie Bennett, Diana Jacobsen, Jacqui Brauman from The Rural Woman (A 3000+ network of regional women converting into a Platform Co-op to address isolation with connection);
- Julie Miller Markoff and Clare Fountain of BHive (A Platform Co-op enabling locals to share);
- Tamsin Young, Emma Pascoe of Loconomics.coop (A Platform Co-op enabling gig workers to own the platform where they receive local work);
- Ann Apps and Sidsel Grimstad of Newcastle University (Academics and advocates that were in the 1st cohort of Platform Co-op’s Now);
- Bronwen Morgan on UNSW (Academic and advocate that was in the 1st cohort of Platform Co-ops Now);
- Molly Kendall of Resource.coop (A Worker Co-operative founded in 1993 now developing a 2-sided market connecting waste sources with resource buyers);
- Janeece Keller of Wayfairer Co-op (aka FairBnB Australia is a Platform like AirBnB but where the hosts own the network and 50% of the booking fee goes to local community projects).
And there’s probably way more if we delved deeper.
The Common Denominator
Whilst the rest of the “Platform Co-op world” is being propelled by disaffected youth, in Australia, it is being propelled by middle-aged women. This may be because they share the same concerns, hopes and experience of life at the moment. If so, that says a lot.
The thing it clearly shows is that women in Australia are pushing the limits of digital inclusion through ownership and this is probably going to mean that we have a different and more mature outlook to the rest of the global cohort of Platform Co-op builders. It is exciting to think what the rest of the worlds’ youth and middle-aged women in Australia will teach each other.
We won’t have to wait long. The 2nd edition of the Platform Co-op’s Now course starts 26th October 2020.
2nd Edition of Platform Co-ops Now
More information on Platform Co-operatives