Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives Goes Global


Local Game Goes Global with Licensing Deals in Seven Countries

NORTHAMPTON—The makers of Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives are hitting the international scene and are receiving much fanfare in the cooperative business world. The four person co-op behind the game, the Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA), has recently signed three separate licensing agreements to produce and market Co-opoly in seven countries around the globe. Production is underway in South Korea and the Philippines, and will begin in Spain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and Portugal in 2014.

TESA’s partners in these ventures are Actus, a pioneering South Korean IT firm that is one of that country’s first high-profile companies to transition from a traditional ownership model under a new law defining cooperative businesses. In the Philippines, TESA has joined forces with Manzanares & Partners Law Offices, a firm specializing in strategic work for cooperatives, mutuals, and other ethical business entities. A Spanish social enterprise and worker cooperative called Barcelonya is TESA’s European partner. Barcelonya will jointly coordinate the European edition of Co-opoly with TESA and, in addition to many other accolades, has already produced a game on ethical finance called Ethica.

“We have seen a real desire for economic change around the world, and our game teaches people how co-ops help achieve a more equitable economy,” says Andrew Stachiw, a worker-owner of TESA. “We’ve worked hard to develop an ethical supply chain and we’re creating individualized agreements with each of our partners so that the spread of Co-opoly is about sustainable cooperative economics, not a bottom line based on profits.”

TESA has sold thousands of Co-opoly games in the two years it has been on the market, with a significant portion of sales occurring overseas. The game play is customizable—you play Co-opoly as a team, typically using your community as the setting. Players have frequently approached TESA to work on language translations. These discussions led to partnerships for licensing and producing international editions of the game.

“We base our partnerships on mutual aid,” says David Morgan, co-director of international affairs at TESA. “Rather than simply try to extract profit from the workers who are producing and selling the game abroad, we create relationships that are equitable in terms of decision-making power and finances.”

International cooperative activists have also expressed interested in licensing the game for production in Nigeria and Malaysia, and the U.S.-made edition of Co-opoly benefits from a special distribution partnership in the U.K.

Volunteer translators are also translating Co-opoly into French, Italian, and Greek versions of the game. In all cases, Co-opoly is adapted to the local setting, and translators modify the game for different cultural norms, legal obligations, and historical circumstances.

TESA is a worker-owned cooperative based in Northampton that produces a variety of resources to increase people’s knowledge about cooperatives, popular education, and economic justice. TESA works closely with organizations to develop curriculum and workshops on cooperatives, community organizing, grassroots fundraising, and more.

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