Mandela Foods Cooperative is a locally-owned and operated full-service grocery store and nutrition education center located in West Oakland, a community long underserved in grocery retail. The present undersupply of food retail in West Oakland represents an opportunity to leverage untapped local buying power into new business and employment opportunities and healthy eating options for West Oakland residents. The Cooperative will offer local goods, wholesome, fresh and affordable foods grown on family farms, nutrition education classes and a cooperative economic investment program that provides multi-level investment for community residents.
The Cooperative’s business model is designed to perform both financially and socially. From a financial perspective the cooperative is expected to generate a 26% return on investment within the first 5 years of operation. Social Return will be measured by:
• Direct and indirect support for new businesses in the immediate area through the Cooperative’s umbrella organization, Mandela Marketplace.
• Hours of entrepreneurial training and work experience for low-income residents working within the store’s cooperative ownership structure
• Total value of profit sharing at Peoples Community Partnership Federal Credit Union (West Oakland based)
• Total value of inventory purchased from small farms within a 170 mile radius of Oakland that do not otherwise participate in retail markets;
• Volume of wholesale distribution of produce and other fresh foods to local convenience stores
• Active participation in community services including operating market booth at senior centers, catering for local organizations and churches, and donations to emergency food programs.
Carrots where there once was none in West Oakland
Each card has a photo of one of the co-op’s produce suppliers, and a short note on how they run their farm. Mandela Marketplace buys directly from small minority farmers, who, in a lot of cases, wouldn’t be able to provide enough of a harvest to sell to the bigger supermarkets. Black and Latino faces beam out from the pictures on the walls, proof that the co-op is working on the broader issue of an inequitable food system that provides no natural breaks for the little guys on the production end,