Helping Worker Ownership Blossom in Kenya Through Education

  By Rebecca Bauen, Director of Education and Training

Across industries and borders, worker cooperatives share the potential to ensure workers benefit directly from their labor and provide agency through robust workplace participation. DAWI has partnered with the Cooperative University of Kenya (CUK) and Global Communities, a nonprofit working at the intersection of humanitarian assistance, sustainable development and financial inclusion, to deliver the benefits of cooperative small business ownership to young professionals in Kenya. As a part of this work, DAWI’s education and training team traveled to Kenya, collaborating with CUK and Global Communities to embed worker cooperatives in the university’s undergraduate curriculum.

DAWI staff have completed two trips to Kenya in 2022, contextualizing the School for Democratic Management at DAWI’s curriculum to resonate with CUK students, and partnering on a short course for CUK undergraduate students. Kenya is home to a vibrant cooperative ecosystem, but worker cooperatives are still few in number and any support infrastructure is quite new. The new curriculum, CUK and Global Communities believe, can help worker cooperatives be used to address some of Kenya's most pressing social issues, including youth unemployment, lack of safety in public transportation, and exploitative working conditions for nannies in the informal sector.

DAWI’s education and training team led a 60-hour, two-week-long faculty training program to develop the knowledge, competencies and confidence to teach the worker cooperative business model. CUK faculty then used this curriculum to teach to 25 undergraduate students through a 12-module, 24-hour, virtual curriculum. Topics covered include open-book management, shared decision-making, compensation, meeting facilitation, and more. The majority of the students were in their final year of university.

DAWI’s trip was part of a multi-year contract with Global Communities to embed worker cooperative management and development at the university by training CUK faculty in the worker cooperative business model. 

Learn more about democratic management from the School for Democratic Management at DAWI in “Democratic Management: A Practical Guide for Managers and Others.”