SUCCESS STORIES – DENMARK
Contributed by Kooperationen
Knowledge Workers task is to realize the economic growth potential of SMEs, which often do not have the necessary academic and practical know-how or financial basis to break the barriers to growth. KnowledgeWorker going into the close collaborations with companies and sharpens the strategic focus to grow by taking advantage of new market opportunities.
KnowledgeWorker is a company that works as a platform for people with a master degree or equivalent, employing freelancers. KnowledgeWorker makes CSR strategies. The cooperative assists with recruiting, fundraising, venture capital raising, project management, marketing campaigns, digitalization, quality control, lean, evaluation, market and competitor analysis.
The offices are located in Copenhagen and although the company has an urban clientele mainly from Zealand, the island in which Copenhagen is located, its services are provided all over the country.
Structure and Membership
KnowledgeWorker is not a consultancy firm in the classic sense. They do not sell standard solutions to their customers. The cooperative is member oriented. The company considers it essential to create a common vision in order to achieve a successful cooperative. The company applies a holistic approach and solves a wide range of problems in different fields from innovation to marketing.
The legally incorporated worker cooperative has 10 members, all employees (freelancers) of the cooperative. Knowledge workers are not hired on regular contracts. Each individual becomes a member of the cooperative from day one. There is no monthly salary but each member will be rewarded for the results he or she brings in actual project.
Formed in 2013, the cooperative was established within 6 months. Legal assistance was provided by Kooperationen. Capital support was no provided however members are able to receive supplementary unemployment benefits.
Self financing is one of the barriers identified. To make their business more appealing to others and to enter the market, KnowledgeWorkers does not get paid up front. They bear the risk that, according to them, the financial sector is not willing to take. However, the members require a share of the profits each time a project succeeds.
Concerning access to skills, the members have different interdisciplinary backgrounds which cover everything from Engineering, Business Administration, Political Science, History and Law. As a cooperative enterprise KnowledgeWorker believes that 10 people with different perspectives provide a more nuanced and innovative solution than a single perspective, regardless of if it is a high tech company or a shop owner.
The coop gives graduates the chance to show their worth by letting them utilize their knowledge to create growth in businesses and new jobs. The goal is to solve the complex problems of small and midsized enterprises where the potential for growth is largest. The cooperative wants to get more graduates into their network and show SMEs the value of hiring academics.
Access to markets was tackled through marketing, social media and networks. KnowledgeWorkers have developed KnowledgeGreener – it works as a business consultancy for conscious growth under the name of “The Ambassadors Network for Sustainable Welfare, Environment and Recycling (ANSWER)”. The ambassadors are based across five major cities in Denmark, namely Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Esbjerg. The ambassadors work on different kinds of projects, all in relation to sustainable business. Activities include research, marketing, surveys, consulting, reporting, communication, co-design, etc.
On the front of legal barriers, transforming a business idea to an actual business is always difficult. Kooperationen provided legal advice, ensuring that contracts were drafted to protect the interest of the parties. Kooperationen also gave advice on statutes, rights and responsibilities as well as advice on employment contracts. If necessary Kooperationen will in the future settle disputes or represent KnowledgeWorkers in court.
BYBI – The Copenhagen City Bee Association
Bybi, which means City Bee in Danish, is a social cooperative enterprise that employs no less than 3 million bees! The cooperative helps to improve the urban environment and unlock the social and economic benefits of sustainable beekeeping and honey production in beautiful Copenhagen. Since its beginning in 2010, Bybi has developed a unique social responsibility partnership with a number of Denmark’s top businesses.
Renowned Danish enterprises adopt Bybi’s beehives. The beehives are placed on the companies’ rooftops or in their grounds. Bybi uses the apiary to train citizens on the edge of the work market such as long-term unemployed, homeless and people with alcohol and drug problems, in beekeeping and honey production. Byby cooperates with companies that take an active, hands-on approach to solving social and environmental challenges in the workplace and society at large.
The company has an urban clientele mainly from Zealand – the island in which Copenhagen is located. However, its products are sold all over the country. The company’s CSR brand is rather strong; powerful traditional enterprises sponsor the Bybi’s apiaries in order to promote the uptake of a CSR into their own companies. In the last five years, Bybi has trained more than 100 individuals.
Bybi has been very active in the “Sharing Copenhagen” project, the slogan for the European City of Environment, which Copenhagen has the honour of holding in 2014. Bybi is involved by joining a program of events, activities and partnerships throughout the year
Another important strategy is “The honeypusher project”, which is a new scheme for creating real work opportunities for long term unemployed.
Structure and Membership
A legally incorporated cooperative, Bybi is a not-for-profit association driven democratically by its members. They are run both as an association and a cooperative. All profits are reinvested in Bybi’s social and environmental activities. All 10 members are also the employees of the cooperative.
In terms of membership criteria, the Copenhagen City Bee Association is for everyone! By joining Bybi citizens create new opportunities for people on the edge of the work market. A membership is DKK 100 per year.
Formed in 2010, the cooperative was set up within 6 months. Legal assistance is provided by Kooperationen and Members can receive supplementary unemployment benefits. The members of Bybi have the chance to supplement their income and gain a foot in the work market, new networks and social skills. Honeypushers pay tax on their earnings.
Bybi is both a cooperative and a social cooperative enterprise of 10 employees. In the last four years, Bybi has trained more than 100 individuals. They employ people on the verge of society giving real work opportunities for long term unemployed. Bybi is dedicated to furthering a more inclusive labour market.
CSR profile-raising was quintessential in developing Bybi. As well as product sale, marketing and exposure. More important however, was the partnering in 2011 with Bella Center, a renowned hotel and conference centre. Bella Center became the first Honey Hotel in Scandinavia.
In 2011 money from Bella Center helped finance 1,959 hours of work experience training for three assistant beekeepers from the Sundholm Activity Centre. Moreover, money from Bella Center helped in the development of new information material on bees in the city, the planning of 38 events, tours and presentations about urban beekeeping and sustainability, power and water for the project’s factory and offices and rent for the project’s van, core administration costs, including insurance, legal advice and accountancy.
In 2013 Bybi won the first prize in the Social Economy Award. The prize was DKK 100.000 (Euro 14.000). Bybi has also developed educational tools and activities for children.
In terms of skills, there was a need to train unemployed and underprivileged people without knowledge of bees and beekeeping. The training program was designed to provide citizens on the verge of the work market with new professional and social skills, which would help facilitate their return to the labour market.
Bybi established Scandinavia’s first urban honey factory in collaboration with Sundholm Center, a municipal centre for long term unemployed, homeless and people with alcohol or drug addiction. The assistant beekeepers are recruited from the centre’s service users. They are involved in all aspects of running the factory, look after 3 million bees and help provide education to city kids. Bybi provides an open and flexible work environment and learning centre – with space for developing new skills and opportunities to participate in new professional and social networks.