Through the WhatsApp group, these store owners shared information and aligned on strategies together. They collectively decided, for instance, to close their stores at 8pm even after a curfew was lifted. Some of them met with Mayor Moran to advocate for their needs as essential workers.
There were hints that some store owners were looking to organize themselves into something more, some sort of structure that would allow them to sustainably support and uplift one another. So Emma reached out to PACA.
Over the past few months, one of PACA’s Co-op Business Developers, Jeanette Cuevas, has supported Emma and a core group of store owners in the early, exploratory phases of cooperative development. Specifically, she helped the store owners form a steering committee and elect roles within it. Jeanette also facilitated some co-op education, helping store owners understand the difference (and overlap) between cooperatives and other associative structures. She supported them in planning and holding monthly “asembleas,” which have gathered 25-35 store owners each time, whether outside or on Zoom.