Self Help Corp

Self Help Corporation Outline Business Plan

For the design parameters of whole systems see: Designing Whole Systems

For the theory behind this work see: The Theory Of Relationships

What if there was an organization that could offer a job to almost anyone anytime they needed a job?

What if there was an organization that employed people to produce goods and services for consumption by the people that did the production?

What if there was an organization designed to accumulate the assets needed for people to provide for themselves when their skills are not needed in the local economy?

This is the way I see that it could happen:

My initial target customer is a single person working in the service, construction or landscaping industry.

My initial work force is anyone who cannot currently find full time employment.

The initial facility is a commercial kitchen, a laundry facility and space for caring for young children.

The corporation will offer the customer three meals a day and laundry services. The cost to the customer will be lower than they would pay to feed themselves and launder their own clothes because the corporation can buy food wholesale and because the corporation will not pay its labor in cash.

The corporation pays its worker/owners in shares and shares are redeemable in goods and services provided by the corporation. Therefore, initially, the cost to the corporation for labor is the cost of providing food, cleaning, child care and laundry services to the kitchen, laundry, cleaning and child care workers.

The cash received from the operation, over the cost of food, supplies, rent and utilities will then be invested in the purchase of equipment and facilities that will allow the corporation to expand services.

That is the urban base structure. That structure can be reproduced anywhere there is the required customer/work force population. The urban base structure will expand its services as cash and opportunity allow. The urban base structure will also "seed" a rural base structure. Each of these processes will be discussed in turn.

Expanding the Urban Base Structure

The corporation would provide a place where a customer drops by on the way to work, eats an inexpensive, nutritious, good tasting breakfast; picks up a lunch pail of equal quality and posts a note on the bulletin board when his/her employer is hiring. After work, the customer can go home, shower, and go to the corporation's facility for an inexpensive, nutritious and good tasting supper. The customer might also drop off laundry for next day pick up.

The corporation will offer shares to workers to cook the meals, run the laundry, care for the children of fellow workers and thoroughly clean the facility every evening.

The first expansion for the corporation would be to provide two choices for each meal. One would be a daily special which will change from day to day, will be made in bulk and which will be offered as inexpensively as possible. The other would be a regular menu of items that can be prepared to order and that are priced in line with other "family" restaurants in the area. That will allow the corporation to expand its customer base.

The corporation would locate its facility in a blighted area where people of limited opportunities live. Working for the corporation would provide job training, in addition to providing a source of food, laundry, child care and cleaning services that the worker would otherwise do without or pay for with cash. The corporation would solicit assistance from commercial restaurants, laundries, day care and cleaning companies to develop training programs for the corporation's workers that could lead to regular employment in those industries.

The second expansion for the corporation would be a program of purchasing residential properties in the area of the corporation's facility that can be rented to either customers or workers. If the kitchen, for example, is making enough cash to pay mortgage payments over and above the cash required for expansion, the corporation would be in a position to offer housing in exchange for shares as well as its other goods and services. If the corporation did not yet have that kind of cash, the properties would have to be rented to customers until the mortgage was paid.

The properties purchased would be rented, initially, to people working in the construction and landscaping businesses. Shares would be offered for specific upgrades to the properties. Upgrades would be accomplished by the renters with help from the corporation's workers interested in learning those trades. The corporation would solicit construction and landscape companies to develop training programs for the corporation's workers that could lead to regular employment in those industries.

The corporation would seek to arrange other services for its workers through share transactions or a combination of shares and cash. These might include preventive medical care and dental services. The corporation itself would seek to arrange accounting and legal services through share transactions. A professional entering such a transaction would be able to redeem their shares by having their lawn mowed, their house cleaned, meals delivered, etc.

The ultimate goal of the corporation is to make it possible for a worker to obtain all the necessities of life from working for the corporation. The only necessity not discussed above is clothing. There would probably also be some demand for modern conveniences such as home furnishings, electonics, music and videos. For these other items, I see four possibilities: 1)The worker takes part time or temporary jobs when necessary, 2)the corporation purchases these types of items wholesale and trades them to workers for shares, 3)the corporation offers a program of redeeming a certain number of shares for cash, or 4)the worker is able to sell shares for cash to others interested in purchasing goods or services from the corporation. Some combination of two or more of the above seems reasonable.

There is one final item of expense that I do not think can be reduced. That is the issue of insurance. At a minimum, the corporation will require workmen's compensation and premises liability insurance. The corporation would also want to provide group hospitalization coverage, at least for its regular workers. Government assistance may be available in some circumstances.

Neighborhood improvements - increase in asset value - all neighbors are both customers and workers - crime reduction.

Other businesses - demolition, landscaping - compete with commercial enterprises and obtain materials for use by the corporation.

Seeding a Rural Base Structure

The purpose of a rural base structure is to lower costs for the urban structure and provide additional opportunities for work within the corporation. The corporation will arrange for use of land to produce meat, vegetables, and energy for the use in the urban structure. The rural base structure will then expand its operations as cash and opportunity allow.

The corporation will construct a green house to grow fresh vegetables and chickens. An additional structure will be constructed to raise hogs. I have chosen this combination because of the ability to raise these animals inside structures, designed for cycling nutrients within the structure and because both types of animals can be fed with foods gathered from the environment rather purchased as commercial feed. Details of the greenhouse operation will be discussed elsewhere.

In the expansion of the rural base structure, additional animals could be raised and the corporation could increase the variety of crops. However, the corporation will not try to produce bulk quantity foods such as rice, wheat and beans until such time as it has the resources to compete in that market. Assistance will be sought from persons knowledgeable in agriculture and nutrition as to the crops to produce in order to provide a balanced diet to workers and customers while reducing the need to purchase foods from the usual sources, in particular high priced foods such as meat and fresh vegetables.

I am also very interested in using the rural structure for energy self reliance for the corporation. At a minimum, the rural structure will run all manure through a methane generator. It may be possible to compress the methane produced and use it for cooking and hot water in the rural structure. I am also interested in the algea diesel solaroof concept and how that might fit into the system. If the corporation where supplying labor to forest rehabilitation projects that will be discussed below, the corporation might be able to supply its power through wood chip gassification/methanol/charcoal. I do not have the technical specifications to make those determinations.