Use Your Money - Arizmendi Cooperative
The Arizmendi Bakeries are on our list of Use Your Money businesses. They started out as a single store in Berkeley and have grown to an association of independent cooperatives in Oakland, Emeryville, San Rafael, San Francisco (Mission and the Sunset), as well as Berkeley. I spoke with Yeni Solis, a worker-owner at Arizmendi Valencia in San Francisco.
How did Arizmendi Mission get started?
Arizmendi Mission is just about a year old. Part of the mission of the Arizmendi Association is to spread the cooperative model. They provided training, startup advice and a loan to help get us started. As we grow, we'll pay back the loan and help the Arizmendi Association start other co-ops.
How does the business work?
We sell sweets and breads to the people of the diverse Mission neighborhood. Because we are all owners of the business and don't have bosses, we all make the same wage. We also all get to share in any of the profits at the end of the year, with 25% of the profits going to support the organization.
Internally, everyone learns how to do all parts of the business, though some people specialize in baking bread or in making pizza.
How do you make decisions about the business?
Business decisions are decided collectively. For example, when we make a new hire, a hiring committee makes reviews resumes and conducts interviews. But after a new person has worked at Arizmendi for 6 months, we decide if they will be accepted as a member of the co-op as a group. When we decide to make a new product, a committee comes up with the idea, then the co-op makes the decision.
How does Arizmendi benefit its workers and the community?
The workers benefit by not having a boss and being able to be a part of collective decision making. Everyone learns how to bake as well as how to run a business, including how to read financial reports and how money moves through the organization. We also get some health benefits, and we get a share of the profits at the end of the year.
Arizmendi benefits the community because the money our customers spend stays local and gets spent again in other businesses. Plus, they get great tasting bread and pastries.
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