BY: DAN TAYLOR, ENERGIZING ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITIES PROGRAM COORDINATOR, THE HUB
The Hub is working to encourage and support more entrepreneurship and small business in West Virginia, through programs like Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities, which is working in Grafton, Madison – Danville, Lincoln and Wyoming Counties. So, we are always excited when we come across innovative new models to promote!
And this is the case in Parkersburg, where Unity Cafe, a barista-operated cafe has recently opened downtown. This new business starting up was also the first loan for Cooperation Central Appalachia.
Cooperation Central Appalachia is “working to build a new economy in Appalachia that is based on democratic principles, radical inclusion of communities marginalized in the current system, and that builds community wealth. The way Coop Central Appalachia works to make this change is through a model combining comprehensive business development services with lending specifically designed for worker and producer cooperatives.”
“Worker cooperatives, where everyone is a decision-maker, are usually hard to fund by traditional means such as banks just because they are unfamiliar structures, says CCA member Brandon Nida. “This loan fund, which is anchored by two larger organizations, The Working World and Southern Reparations Loan Fund, provides financing and business development services specifically tailored to cooperatives.”
Another angle to CCA’s approach is that the loan fund is designed to connect resources to communities that have been historically been shut out of traditional investment and financing, such as black communities and rural coalfield communities. “The aim is to get financing to people in these communities so they can start the kinds of businesses, such as cooperatives, that help build and anchor wealth in their communities.”
Check out this great story that Clutch MOV recently did about Unity Cafe – and go check them out next time you are in Parkersburg!
From the article:
“We love to make coffee for the city that loves to drink it.” That quote is the first thing you see when you walk up to Unity Café, and it is a quote that their whole team believes in. Unity Café is a unique café and eatery that serves delicious American and Bulgarian items. The owner, Petia Johnson, has a 7-year background in coffee and was looking for a new opportunity when she united with three baristas Dakota Full, Eric Snuffer, and ReNae Phillips. Unity Café is a barista operated café; what this means is that the baristas all work together to run the café instead of having a manager over them. The incentive behind this type of operation is that everyone gets a percent of the yearly earnings. Petia stressed that Unity Café is a co-op business because she recognizes that everyone has their own gift, and often times someone’s gift is not used to its full potential. She referred to the baristas as “members” saying that they all have their own voice and input in the café. Having heard about their philosophy and the way they operate, it was easy to see why they settled on the name Unity Café.”