79. Bertha’s Story: A founding members describes the power of cooperative development

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Coop Name: WAGES Women's Action to Gain Economic Security N° of Employees: 10
City: Oakland N° of Members: 81
Country: United States Year of formation: 1995
Website: http://www.wagescooperatives.org
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About this coop:

WAGES builds worker-owned green businesses that create healthy, dignified jobs for low-income women. We launch cooperatives where women develop personal and professional skills, become leaders, and gain economic security.

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““For me, it’s about empowerment,”” explains Bertha Naranjo, full-time mother of four and full-time worker-owner and co-founder of Eco-Care Professional Housecleaning, an eco-friendly housecleaning cooperative Bertha developed with eight other women in a suburb of San Francisco, CA in 2001.

The cooperative was developed with the help of WAGES, Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security, a Bay Area nonprofit that builds green, women-owned cooperative business. When WAGES last spoke with Bertha, she described the feelings of pride, dignity, and security that have accompanied her involvement in the co-op and over the last 10 years. “”As a business owner,”” says Bertha, “”you do [the work] with more passion because you know it is your business. And you want to see it succeed.””

Bertha’’s passion for her work has inspired her to support and teach other women. As a New Member Trainer since 2004, Bertha has trained women entering WAGES’ cooperatives throughout the Bay Area on how to clean safely and effectively using alternatives to toxic chemicals. “”I feel happy and fulfilled,”” she says. ““It is hard to be a mother, a wife, and to work, too, but now I see nothing is impossible.””

Eco-Care Professional Housecleaning is one of five co-ops in the Bay Area that WAGES has developed. WAGES mission is to build worker-owned, green businesses that create healthy, dignified jobs for low-income, immigrant women.
To learn more, please visit WAGES’ website at http://wagescooperatives.org/

Author of this story
Elena Fairley
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