Founded in 1997, in Helsinki, by a group of musicians and producers Osuuskunta Lilith is, today, the biggest osuuskunta, or cooperative, of its kind in Finland, with an annual turnover of 3 million euro. Among its members, there are also a production house and a publisher, with many of Finland’s top artists on board.
Lilith’s business model, developed together with its members, is to guarantee to its workers members the status of employees providing them with a safe and secure work environment and a place to concentrate on a multitude of professions and skills.
In order to do so, the cooperative takes care of all of the legal duties (social security fees, taxes, etc.) employers must comply with according to the Finnish legislation. In addition, it provides for its members training courses, workshops, working spaces, tools and equipment, discounts on various products and services, networking opportunities, informal, social and recreational gatherings.
Shared values of independence and quality of work, equality of members, joy and friendship
Lilith has also developed an extensive member platform for financial administration, guidance and communication to assure that its original values of independence and quality of work, equality of members, joy and friendship remain intact.
Worker members take part in a general assembly once a year and elect a board composed of 3 to 7 persons for the following 12 months. The elected board organises the governance of the cooperative: it decides on new members applications and hires the office personnel, including the managing director, who is responsible for the day-to-day operations.
On a day-to-day basis, the cooperative aims for transparent and inclusive administration in the form of direct accessibility, enquiries, polls, etc.
This working methodology referred to as “collaborative” by Lilith members is thought to provide many benefits: it allows people to learn from each other, encourages sharing and trust, and builds a sustainable working culture where everyone is an equal member in terms of social protection.
Currently the cooperative is focusing on the communal side of its services, by making easy collaborations, shared projects and joint communications, it tries to assure more interaction among its members and the administration as well.
A key goal of the cooperative is to enhance its worker members' income, employment and career prospects. Last year Lilith employed more than 250 of its worker members.
Jobs are provided in two ways: most members have had established relationships with clients, who they have brought in when they have joined the cooperative; and sometimes the cooperative receive orders from clients and find suitable worker members to deal with these assignments.
Another intent of the cooperative is to take part in the international movement of cooperatives for a better future.
“Being a cooperative allows a more open and democratic way of management by and for the workers. The general cooperative values are more sustainable even on a global scale in the long run.” says Tommi Viitamies, managing director of Lilith.
Lilith is a successful example of how the cooperative model can provide sustainability of work, social protection and flexibility towards the hybrid and multi-professional jobs of the future in the relatively unstable creative and arts sector in Finland.
Lilith cooperative is affiliated to Coop Finland an association of experts on cooperatives providing updates, advices and skills on cooperative development in the country.
P.S. In 2020, CECOP had the chance to sit down and interview Tommi Viitamies, President who dove deeper into the business model of the cooperative.