WomenVenture, which counsels and loans money to female-owned businesses, was awarded a $375,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to launch a pilot program to help establish cooperatively-owned 24-hour childcare businesses in low-income areas.
The Twin Cities has high demand for reliable, affordable day care—especially for night-shift workers—and there are skilled day care workers who would like to own their own business but lack the financial means, according to WomenVenture. The program will allow day care professionals to pool their resources and run sustainable businesses.
“This grant allows us to take that knowledge and expertise to create an entrepreneurial pathway for women who are interested in starting cooperatively-owned day cares and, in the process, serve the needs of low-income working families," said Elaine Wyatt, CEO of WomenVenture.
” Wages for co-op workers typically are higher than for the same work at private businesses. Co-ops also provide employee benefits such as medical insurance, a 401K match and paid time off," she added.
WomenVenture, which long has worked with private day care owners, will form cohorts of 12-to-15 experienced day care professionals in low-income neighborhoods to establish the childcare cooperatives. The graduates of these cohorts will study everything from accounting to governance, and develop a business plan. They will also be eligible to apply for a loan from WomenVenture.
Last year, WomenVenture served 1,000 clients—60 percent of whom were low-to-moderate income—and helped start, improve or expand 615 business that create or retained 1,319 jobs that paid an average wage of $27 per hour.