Elizabeth Ruiz, a worker-owner at EcoMundo, says: “Being a business owner brings me great personal satisfaction because I can be self-reliant.”
“I give myself to my work with all my strength so that my client stays satisfied – satisfied with the cleaning, and satisfied with the company, too.”
Ruiz says being her own boss allows her to make decisions on her wages and schedule. “There are more possibilities to do other projects in your life and when you depend on a boss you cannot do that because they set the rules,” she says.
“They make the decisions and you cannot make them. Here we make all the decisions.”
Mariana Ortega, general manager of Cooperative Cleaning, says the partnership has made tech and marketing resources available that are rarely accessible to small organisations.
She says: “There’s competition on the market. We can’t compete, not individually, and Up & Go brings us all to that ability and level to do that. It’s a stepping stone.”
Maribel Torres, of Brightly Cleaning, says she hopes many others will join them. “We’re looking to create more jobs and expand the impact that we have in our community because that’s why we’re doing all of this,” she says.
New Yorkers have greeted the app with enthusiasm. One customer, Kara Hayward, describes it as a “quality service” that is “easy to use”, adding: “I love that Up & Go works directly with small businesses. I feel like I am supporting New York City.”
Another says: “I’m glad to know the coop members receive their fair share of the fee for their services”.
Sylvia Morse, Project Coordinator at the Center for Family Life – which is coordinating the development of Up & Go – says that unlike some of the larger-scale apps, Up & Go is controlled by the workers themselves. This means that they determine their own schedules, wages and working practices – all of which yields a better quality service.
“Up & Go’s services are a little more expensive,” she says. “But something we have heard from customers over and over again is how clean their house is. Cleaner than they thought it could be.
“The goal is not to enrich investors. The goal is to help worker-owned businesses become sustainable and continue to grow.”