BY JULIA DOYLE '20
Last spring, students in an advanced political seminar created Mo’Coffee, a student coffee cooperative that would be student-run as well as student-owned. The decision to create a student run and owned co-op came after learning that there were no student-owned or cooperatively-owned enterprises within the Mount Holyoke community. The decision to make said enterprise a coffee business came out of a need for more coffee suppliers with convenient locations for students as well as a desire for later hours. A petition on Change.org, started by Azulina Green ’17 in October, states that “Mo’Coffee is inspired by the rich history of worker-owned and democratically operated businesses throughout the Pioneer Valley,” a system that the Mo’Coffee co-op would follow by having the coffee supply enterprise worker and student-owned.
As a prospective co-op, Mo’Coffee plans to present a business plan to the administration before the end of the year and hopes to gain the College’s support by December so it can open up in spring 2017. Student workers will be needed once Mo’Coffee receives approval to create and operate a student business; Green explained, “we will need more students to get involved with all aspects of building and running a business,” and encouraged any students interested in supporting Mo’Coffee to contact them.
Mo’Coffee’s business initiatives involve providing students with a paid learning experience, as well as providing the community with a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable source of coffee in the area. The plans for the development of the co-op are explained in both the Change.org petition written by Green to be sent to Mount Holyoke, as well as in a press release for Mount Holyoke Radix that reviews and explains the purpose of the co-op and the petition.
Green explained how Mo’Coffee would be run on the principle of voluntary and open membership, meaning that “any student that wants to get involved and is passionate about working to make Mo’Coffee a reality can.” The Mo’Coffee co-op is designed to provide students an opportunity to experience employment in a worker-owned environment. In its statement to Mount Holyoke Radix, Mo’Coffee explains their vision that “Mo’Coffee will offer student-owners a chance to learn by doing by connecting their academic program of study to living those ideals in the real world while paying a living wage.” This system will allow students to earn a living wage through their co-op experience, following the co-op’s dedication to running a democratic and socially responsible operation. Green explained that the ultimatehope for Mo’Coffee is “to expand upon the learning goals of the college and offer students an opportunity to explore a growing sector of the economy while also gaining professional and personal skills in leadership, teamwork, time, project management and much more.”
The petition also explains that “Mo’Coffee will embody the core principles of cooperative businesses by reinvesting in member education and community engagement.” One way to involve the community is by supporting Mount Holyoke’s “commitment to sustainability and social responsibility through their purchases.” This will allow students and other members of the Mount Holyoke community to contribute to the experiences of students in a co-op, while supporting a coffee supplier that operates under a democratic system of management and encourages environmental sustainability. Mo’Coffee hopes to encourage further outreach to the Pioneer Valley community “through the principle of cooperation among cooperatives.” Students can also get involved in Mo’Coffee through the market research being conducted by Mo’Coffee toidentify what coffee services students want, which, as Green explained, “will be invaluable for deciding what Mo’Coffee looks like and what products and services it will offer.” This not only offers students the chance to help support a student co-op, but also the opportunity to choose the services they want on campus in hopes of improving their on-campus experiences.