Ajoke Williams, is a Program Manager for Guilded, a Freelance Co-op. She and Vernon discuss how Guilded leverages the power of pooled benefits, collective purchasing, and collective advocacy; to build agency, decision-making and economic power of freelance and gig economy workers.
Guilded, is an initiative of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. Ajoke joins the Federation’s team that provides tech development, fundraising, communications, project management, and consulting for artist and activist organizations. Originally from New Orleans, she has lived in several cities throughout the US and now resides in Silver Spring, Maryland. Although relatively new to the cooperative scene, she has been working on a means to bring equitable financing and access to capital to cooperative businesses throughout the Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia area, or DMV.
Previously, Ajoke worked with the DC Cooperative Stakeholders Group where she helped design and establish an online asset base to enhance cooperation within their network. She also established a digital online platform for lending pools between members of the Movement for Black Lives DC coalition and provided logistical and development support for a number of BLM campaigns during her time there. Ajoke is passionate about bridging the promise of cooperative business with the urgent social needs of black and brown people. As an aspiring credit union founder, she currently serves on the board of Appeal’s Credit Union, and is a founder of Social Conscience PBC, a lending & tech consulting firm.
Guilded is a freelancer cooperative that focuses on the agency, decision making and economic power of the freelancer. Our vision is deeply informed by the work of the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC). Since 2004, the USFWC has leveraged the collective bargaining, scale, and organizing power of a national membership structure to pool benefits and build political and social influence for its members. Now, through Guilded, the USFWC is using its expertise to bring the power of pooled benefits, collective purchasing, and collective advocacy to freelance and gig economy workers. Guilded provides contract management, invoicing, guaranteed payments, tax preparation and access to supplementary health care – so that its members can focus on their businesses, instead of the process for doing business.
Our host, Vernon Oakes, is a consummate advocate for cooperatives. He is a Past President of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, and he’s served on several boards and committees to advance the interests of cooperatives. Recently, he served on the Limited Equity Cooperative Task Force, established by Anita Bonds, At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia. Vernon is an MBA graduate of Stanford University, who has used his business acumen to benefit the community, by promoting the added value of the cooperative business model.