nilenso is a co-operative

Context

In 2013, after closely witnessing the failure of multiple in-spirit-but-not-on-paper “software collectives”, the founders of nilenso wanted a resilient legal structure which could sustain a self-contained institution over any number of employee or founder exits.

Decision

We evaluated an array of structures: Umbrella, Founder-based, Equity-based, “decaying” equity-based, and co-operatives. Only an employee-owned, worker co-operative could meet our institution requirement over medium and long-term modeling. This decision was also based on what would appeal most to potential employees in the long run.

Status: Accepted.

Consequences

This worked. People frequently say they want to work with us because we are a Co-op. Six of eight founding members have left without disrupting nilenso’s active employee ownership and control.

Beyond control, a formal co-operative also dictates seven principles which the corporation must abide by:

  1. Voluntary, open ownership.
  2. Democratic owner control.
  3. Owner economic participation.
  4. Autonomy and independence.
  5. Education, training, and information.
  6. Cooperation among co-operatives.
  7. Concern for community.

Points #4 - #7 heavily influence our long-term operations where #1-#3 are more structural. Operational points were not taken seriously until much later in nilenso’s evolution.