South Bay abuse survivors launch worker-owned cooperative

Zach Fuentes Image
Thursday, June 27, 2024
South Bay abuse survivors launch worker-owned cooperative
A group of South Bay women who have overcome incredible hurdles have launched a worker-owned ECOS Cooperative to benefit their community.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Seven women who overcame extreme challenges have found a new way to take control of their lives. Together, they've just launched a worker-owned cooperative to benefit their community.

The important, long-awaited day finally arrived for the South Bay women Wednesday - it's called, ECOS Cooperative or Excellent Community Organizing and Services.

Made up of seven women who immigrated from different countries, six were on hand Wednesday to introduce the project they've worked so hard to develop and get support for.

But just getting to that point required overcoming incredible hurdles.

TAKE ACTION: Get help with violence, assault and abuse at home

"We're starting from scratch here in this area. We are survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence," said cooperative member Siberia Moreno. "We are survivors."

Together, the women will be providing different services, like office cleaning, event child care, community education and interpretation services. The translation services won't just be from English to Spanish but also the indigenous language, Triqui, spoken by many in South Santa Clara County.

"There's not a lot of folks who speak the language, and who can translate into Spanish and then much less translate into English and so they found a niche," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Syliva Arenas.

Arenas worked to secure a $100,000 grant to the nonprofit Human Agenda, to help ECOS Cooperative get off the ground.

"When I see a group of women who are organized and have gone through what they've gone through in terms of human trafficking and gender-based violence, it really is doesn't take very much to decide to support them," Arenas said.

EXCLUSIVE: SF woman shares story of domestic violence to help others escape abuse

Because it's a worker-owned cooperative, the women will be able to use their voices in a unique environment.

"With a cooperative, every member has one vote. Every worker and every owner as part of a worker owner relationship have a voice in every decision in the cooperative," said Richard Hobbs, founder and immigration attorney at Human Agenda.

The support of local government and other agencies have only added to the determination each of the women already came to the cooperative with.

"People from important positions, they are listening to us," Morena said. "So we have our own voice and they are listening."

With the grant funding and program launched, the women are now focused on securing contracts and continuing to grow their business.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here