About our cooperative
We are a worker-owned co-op! That means that the owners of the business also work at the bakery day to day, and that everyone hired by BreadHive has the potential to become an owner. We operate as a New York State 5A, a specific cooperative incorporation status. That means we were able to fund the majority of our startup and expansion through the sale of community nonvoting shares rather than taking on debt! It also means that each owner shares an equal equity stake. Currently we have eight owners! You can read their reflections on what it means to be a worker-owner at BreadHive on our blog.
A different way to work
As small business owners, we find that the benefits of offering ownership to employees is worth splitting the equity. Being able to bring on additional partners means there are enough people with the necessary level of investment and passion needed to share the many responsibilities of keeping an operation like ours working smoothly. For our employees, it means that bringing their skills and capabilities to the table results in trust and increased ownership of their work. When we treat every worker as a potential owner, the potential for collaborative and meaningful work increases.
Powered by our community
Because of our cooperative incorporation status and some excellent legal legwork, we have over 60 investors! These people, most of whom are fellow Buffalo residents, supported our business by purchasing nonvoting preferred stock in our business. They receive a 3% return every year as well as our undying recognition and gratitude. Some of them wrote us checks (or handed us a paper bag full of bills... true story) before we'd even baked a loaf of bread on Baynes Street! Friends, fellow entrepreneurs, food lovers or relative strangers - they all believed that a worker-owned bakery was an idea they'd like to support as we made it a reality.
Would you like to know more?
- The International Cooperative Alliance, a wealth of information
- The Working World, an organization focused on worker cooperatives
If you're starting your own worker co-op (or are interested in converting an existing business) and you think our advice would help you, feel free to drop us a line. We always recommend that you find a lawyer familiar with cooperative law in your area and consider an accountant who's willing to work with the bookkeeping specifics of a co-op. And remember that the one of the cooperative community's missions is to support other cooperatives!