Unique Social Enterprise Food Start-Up Manager
WAGES (Women's Action to Gain Economic Security) - Oakland, CA

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Job Announcement

General Manager – Specialty Foods Cooperative
(Bi-lingual English/Spanish Required)

Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security (WAGES) seeks a dynamic and committed entrepreneur possessing strong food industry business growth experience to manage the launch of a cooperative business that will produce a specialty food product.

The planning and development of this new cooperative is being managed by WAGES as it goes through incubation at La Cocina. The General Manager has primary direct responsibility for product, business, and member skill development, and will have collaborative responsibility for finance, personnel, marketing, and customer service.

This position offers a unique opportunity to combine entrepreneurial spirit, social and sustainable community values, and a passion for great food – in the context of WAGES’ and La Cocina’s innovative and proven economic development models.

We are seeking someone who:

  • Is an effective leader who brings out the best in others.
  • Has significant culinary product development experience and an excellent eye and taste for quality food that will generate customer loyalty.
  • Has the drive and capacity to create the efficient production processes necessary to grow this new cooperative quickly and create opportunities for more women to join the cooperative.

The Position:

The General Manager has primary responsibility for the launch and growth of the new cooperative, leading it through a three-year “incubation phase” that culminates with the co-op’s graduation from WAGES’ and La Cocina’s programs. S/he reports to WAGES’ Executive Director and will serve as the primary liaison between WAGES, La Cocina, and the founding members of the cooperative. This position is full-time and requires availability for night and weekend activities related to member training and business operations needs.

Responsibilities include:

  • Product, Production Process, and Business Development
  • Co-op Member and Organizational Development
  • Finance, Operations, Marketing, and Customer Service (in collaboration with others)

(Detailed responsibilities are outlined below.)

Position Requirements

  • Specialty food product development and production skills and experience.
  • Demonstrated track record in sales and demonstrated ability to grow a food-related business, including proven ability to develop efficient and scalable production processes in a commercial kitchen or small-scale food manufacturing facility.
  • Five or more years’ experience supervising people and managing teams.
  • Ability to work effectively with people of diverse economic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in Spanish and English, with Spanish fluency sufficient to interact positively and effectively with monolingual worker-owners.
  • Excited by the prospect of building a worker-owned cooperative business in partnership with WAGES and La Cocina.
  • Is flexible, creative, patient, energetic, and collaborative in work style.

Highly Desirable Additional Skills/Qualities

  • Business management experience in specialty food small business context, including experience in financial management, operations, customer service, and marketing.
  • A successful track record in a teaching, training, or coaching role.
  • Experience with collaborative work environments (direct experience with cooperatives is a plus).

Salary for this position is competitive and depends on experience. Position includes great benefits, including health, dental, vision, three weeks vacation, and the opportunity to play a leadership role in creating a unique model for an equitable, sustainable, and socially responsible business.

Hiring Process:

Send a resume and thoughtful cover letter (1 page maximum) outlining how your experience meets the position requirements to hiring at wagescooperatives dot org with “Specialty Foods General Manager – YOUR NAME” in the subject line. Application deadline is April 15th, with a target start date in May, 2013.

Detailed Responsibilities

Product, Production Process, and Business Development

  • Lead final stages of product development process, including testing and adjustment to meet market demand.
  • Finalize brand concept and business model, in partnership with WAGES and La Cocina.
  • Develop economically-efficient and scalable production processes.
  • Lead sales, contract negotiation, and client relations for all distribution channels during the pre-launch and co-op incubation phases, maximizing La Cocina marketing support and leveraging opportunities developed through WAGES’ and La Cocina’s networks and relationships.

Co-op Member and Organizational Development

  • Spanish fluency to interact, train, coach, and communicate with monolingual speaking co-op members
  • Select and evaluate co-op members; train and mentor co-op members in food industry business skills and entrepreneurial leadership.
  • Cultivate a healthy organizational culture within the cooperative by setting positive examples and standards for organizational behavior; building a sense of camaraderie, cooperation, and shared ownership among the workers, and supporting individuals’ development through one-on-one supervision and coaching.
  • Coordinate with WAGES to provide worker-owners with on-the-job training in workplace participation, cooperative ownership responsibilities, and personal financial success.
  • Coordinate with La Cocina to provide worker-owners with on-the-job training in food preparation, product development and marketing, and customer service.
  • Teach, model, and mentor members on entrepreneurial skills and an ownership perspective.
  • Nurture commitment and morale within the cooperative
  • Maintain productive team relationships amongst members
  • Participate, with co-op members, in food-related technical assistance training provided through La Cocina, coordinating member participation and leadership in all aspects of training
  • Staff meetings of the co-op membership, board of directors, and committees, working with WAGES staff to support strong decision-making processes and effective overall governance functions that emphasize member leadership

Finance, Operations, Marketing, and Customer Service In collaboration with others, ensure:

  • Effective management of the financial resources of the cooperative, including prudent cost containment and progress toward break-even and capital accumulation
  • Effective and professional bookkeeping (using a Quickbooks-based system).
  • Accurate financial reports are provided regularly to worker-owners, WAGES, the co-op board, and La Cocina.
  • Efficiency of operations, customer service, product delivery and food service provision.
  • Co-op compliance with procedure and requirements for use of La Cocina’s commercial kitchen space.
  • Maintain systems for co-op equipment, computers, files and office management.
  • Effective implementation of a professionally-developed marketing plan for the cooperative.
  • Compliance with applicable laws and regulations.


WAGES develops healthy, dignified worker-owned co-ops that emphasize environmentally friendly techniques as a way to protect workers' health and the environment. The co-ops provide improved financial stability for low-wage workers and expand the economic and social empowerment of their families and communities throughout the greater Bay Area. More information at www dot wagescooperatives dot org

About La Cocina

The mission of La Cocina is to cultivate low-income food entrepreneurs as they formalize and grow their businesses by providing affordable commercial kitchen space, industry-specific technical assistance and access to market and capital opportunities. We focus primarily on women from communities of color and immigrant communities. Our vision is that entrepreneurs will become economically self-sufficient and contribute to a vibrant economy doing what they love to do. More information at www dot lacocinasf dot org

About this company
WAGES develops healthy, dignified worker-owned co-ops that emphasize environmentally friendly techniques as a way to protect workers' health...