Patio: A global network of software cooperators democratising the tech sector

01 Dec 2023

A global community of worker-owned cooperatives is working to boost intercooperation among cooperatives worldwide, by sharing knowledge, job opportunities and human resources. 

Patio, which specialises in digital technology, communication, and design is a growing network currently comprising 69 cooperatives with over 800 cooperators across 19 countries. It provides 37 digital services including full-stack development, blockchain, machine learning and UX/UI design and animation: https://patio.coop

When Patio receives a request from a client, it shares it transparently with the network and assembles a team to provide what is required. This could be a team of varying sizes with people working together remotely across multiple disciplines to deliver the project. 

Patio’s ultimate aim is to scale worker ownership towards a more democratic society. 

The idea of Patio came from discussions in 2017 and 2018 between the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), ICA Asia - Pacific, CICOPA, cooperative federations and IT cooperatives with the creation of a platform to match the cooperative movement up to IT coops to help them find coop-led solutions. 

Patio Co-founder Naska Yankova said: “Patio is a dynamic international network of software cooperatives, brought together by a shared commitment to technologically driven social innovation. The network facilitates a space where global cooperatives unify, exchange advanced technical strategies, and collaboratively drive projects forward.

“We at Patio emphasise partnering with tech cooperatives that are eager to develop and implement meaningful solutions for social issues and make a real impact through software. Our unique model encourages cooperation over competition, enabling us to harness collective insights for the benefit of all members and the wider communities we collaborate with.”

Ms Yankova delivered a presentation to the Cooding conference which took place in Bologna this year (29-30 September). Cooding is the first international event dedicated to the use of digital and new technologies in cooperatives.

In her presentation, Yankova shared an example of a project Patio delivered for MakerConnect, developing a unified framework for planning and executing negotiations powering Fortune 500 companies to make their deals. The software provides step-by-step guidance through the negotiation process to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the negotiations within companies.

To deliver this project, Patio was able to expand a team of two people into a team of eight people, and over two years, were able to generate revenue of around €800,000 for the cooperatives involved. 

Ms Yankova added: “We believe this is the future - to know that we exist, and to support not just the Silicon Valley startups but, actually, our sector, and to really make an impact on the things that matter.”

Some of the benefits of working with Patio include: having a supportive and healthy community environment that helps cooperatives thrive; learning from each other and innovating together by having a hub for knowledge sharing; diverse approaches based on unique points of view; accessing different experts and specialisations in a variety of fields, and opportunities to join multidisciplinary sets of teams.
Looking ahead to the future, Patio is working on adding new cooperatives to its network, to diversify its offerings further, setting up internal operational and technological infrastructure and seeking alliances with national and international apex bodies.

Ms Yankova said the next steps for Patio are “to become the technical partner to the cooperative sector and all businesses that we believe in”, and “to dedicate our knowledge and skills to working in solidarity and striving to democratise the tech sector”.

If any organisations in the cooperative movement are looking for IT solutions from IT cooperatives, they can email Patio at welcome@patio.coop.

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