WORCESTER - Four young entrepreneurs from Worcester are among the finalists in the Mondragon City Challenge, an international competition that challenges youth from around the world to create a business project from scratch. The Worcester finalists are currently in Mondragon, Spain to compete in the challenge and hope to bring the title back home during the competition which began Monday, April 17th, and ends on Friday, April 21st.
The four Worcester youth are competing as the Bikelife Access Courier Cooperative, a worker-owned business that provides courier services using bicycles, cargo bikes, and electric vehicles.
Their team consists of Worcester residents, Brandon Carrion and Mario Harper from 508 BikeLife, and Sathi Patel and Thalia Roman Colon from Worcester Youth Cooperatives. They share that they are committed to advocating for bicycle-friendly streets and working with the community to create a more sustainable and equitable city. “We believe that our business can make a positive impact on the community and set an example for other businesses to prioritize sustainability and community organizing,” the group said.
Their cooperative business plan was developed out of a partnership between members of the "508 BikeLife" movement and Worcester Youth Cooperatives, which is a network of youth-run cooperative projects on a mission to support the power of youth to organize cooperative solutions to social issues they care about. By teaming up, they developed a business model based on principles of sustainability, social justice, and democratic decision-making. They aim to create a cooperative workplace where workers have an equal say in the running of the business.
The team's entry into the competition was based on the Energy and Climate Challenge, where they were required to present a business plan that addressed the challenges of climate change and a transition to a low-carbon economy. The Bikelife Access Courier Cooperative team proposed a solution that combined sustainable transportation, renewable energy, and worker ownership to create a business that not only reduces carbon emissions but also empowers workers and benefits the community.
The Mondragon City Challenge is an annual competition that attracts young entrepreneurs from all over the world. The competition is organized by the Mondragon Corporation, a federation of worker-owned cooperatives based in the Basque Country of Spain. The competition aims to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among young people, and to create a global network of young leaders who share a vision of a more sustainable and equitable world.
“I’m excited about this opportunity because I’ll be able to connect with youth internationally who are also turning to worker-owned collectives to address issues in their communities instead of the hierarchical nonprofits and charities we’re used to relying on here." WYC member Sathi Patel said, “Like to see how their current conditions relate to American society and comparatively address our concerns together to see what has already been trialed and errored around the world.”
The winners of the Mondragon City Challenge will be announced at the end of the competition
Although major accommodations and travel expenses are being covered by the Mondragon organization, the Bikelife Access Courier Cooperative team is still asking for donations to cover additional expenses. Tax-deductible donations can be made by venmo @BuildWYC , CashApp $PowerWYC, or at the Worcester Youth Cooperatives website.