Who is Altgen?
Altgen is a young people’s co-operative agency based in London. We are passionate about supporting our peers, to set up worker's co-operatives as a collaborative and empowering solution to fix our broken economy. Our aim is to re-imagine the future of work by creating a more equal, democratic, and sustainable economy today.
We are constantly experimenting with the co-operative model and principles, adapting this tried-and-tested form of collective organisation for the 21st century. We are always iterating and improving the way we collaborate, organise and communicate.
There are no bosses at Altgen. We’re all paid the same and we make decisions collectively.
In our first year we:
Partnered with co-operatives UK to set up the Young Co-operators Prize, which supported 6 groups of young people to start co-operatives: London-based freelance web developers Founders and Coders; Chapel Street Studio Co-operative, a communications service business from Bradford; digital news platform London Student; Plymouth-based co-working space provider, Dialogue; and Ceramics Studio from London. Each of them received £2,000 to develop innovative new co-op enterprises, as well as an education programme, mentoring, and support.
Ran workshops and stalls at universities and careers fairs across the country, speaking to thousands of students about co-operatives as an alternative to the status quo of graduate employment. This resulted in partnerships with 10 universities across the UK.
Co-founded the Young European Co-operators Network. This is a new network of over 80 young co-operators from 14 countries across Europe working towards a world owned democratically in common.
Featured in The Guardian, Open Democracy, Positive News, Channel 4 News, and others...
Community of Co-ops
CDS Housing Co-op
Founders & Coders
Seeds for Change
Stir to Action
Workshops, talks, and consultancy
Altgen specialises in running inspiring workshops, talks, and consultancy. We have worked with young people, universities, and established businesses - from providing start-up enterprise support, to alternative career advice, to bringing democracy and co-operation back into the workplace. We have a range of themes and topics that we can adapt for particular audiences, or we can devise entirely bespoke workshops in dialogue with partners.
How to start your own co-operative enterprise - from your idea to a collectively run business
Co-operative career advice for young people
Freeing the freelancers: co-operative solutions to modern freelancing
Co-ops for the 21st century
Co-operative entrepreneurship, an alternative solution to confronting the precariousness of today’s work in the cultural sector
What is the future of work?
Past Consultancy Programmes
Better engaging with young staff and customers with the values of your organisation
Improving democratic communication and workplace collaboration
Strengthening collaboration and team building in our co-operatives and businesses
Improving collaboration in our co-operatives
Freelancer's co-operative pilot
The Freelancers’ Co-operative Pilot is a radical ambitious
collective of young self-employed entrepreneurs in precarious
creative industries in London, looking to develop new forms of
mutual support and to set-up a co-operative of freelancers.
Our series of action learning sets, both physical and digital,
will draw on co-operative and trade union methods and
principles to build a culture of solidarity amongst
freelancers, develop shared resources and collaborative
techniques, and amplify the political voice of the
From January 2017, Altgen - supported by SolidFund and Co-operatives UK - will be forming a pilot freelancers’ co-operative with a group of 40 freelancers working in London’s creative industries.
If you are interested in supporting the Freelancers’ Co-operative Pilot, please get in touch.
If you are a freelancer interested in taking part in the programme, sign up for information here.
Transition space programme
Altgen Transition Space is a partnership between Altgen workers co-operative and universities to support
recent graduates to kick-start their careers and build a more co-operative economy.
The Altgen Transition Space programme is an incubator, equipping recent graduates with the skills to make their ideas a reality by setting up co-operative enterprises. The programme is a journey from education to work, supporting young people to practically challenge the failings of the current economic model. It lasts six months, running twice a year for cohorts of 15 recent graduates (those who have recently finished undergraduate or postgraduate courses). The programme is built around co-operative values and principles, providing a supportive and collaborative environment for graduates to flourish in the world of work - and to transform it.
To find out how your university can sign up, please get in touch.
In the co-operative model, we discovered a practical, tangible alternative that is helping people to sustain themselves in a fairer and more meaningful way all over the world. And it’s been around for over 100 years. As the next generation, we want to use and adapt this model as a tool to take control over the things that matter in our lives: from housing to food, from work to community spaces. For us, co-operatives are a practical way to tackle the urgent social, economic and environmental problems that our generation faces. Through them we want to transform the daily reality of work for young people and to help build a more equal, democratic and sustainable economy.
What are co-operatives
Co-operatives are a practical alternative for individual enterprises as well as the economy at large. They are a way of owning and running organisations equally and democratically - whether it’s a business, housing, or a community space. They are owned and run by people like you, not driven by the iron law of maximising shareholder value - and that’s because there are no external shareholders! Whether co-operatives benefit their workers, customers or the community they operate within, they always give their members an equal say over what the enterprise does and an equal share of the proceeds.
We believe in an economy that is equal, democratic
and sustainable. We are working towards
a world owned in common, moving beyond an
economy based on private ownership and accumulation
of wealth. Our generation is inheriting
gross inequalities, environmental destruction,
poverty and political institutions that no longer
We believe the co-operative movement can transform society. It can create meaningful and rewarding work, empower the disempowered and serve the collective wellbeing of people and our planet.
As the next generation we will use the co-operative model as a tool to take control over things that matter in our lives: from housing to food, work to community spaces. To bring back ownership and say in spaces that it has been lost.
The YECN will achieve this vision through sharing ideas, best practice and educational resources, building relationships and creating spaces for exchange both physically and online and finally by innovating the co-operative model- both by bringing new ideas into the movement and by ensuring it truly acts its values of democracy, equality, and social and environmental responsibility.
The Young European Co-operators’ Network Manifesto - written in partnership with all member countries
Ieva is our de facto project manager, though she hates to admit it. A dab hand with a Gantt chart, she keeps tabs on all our ongoing campaigns and makes sure we are all on the right page. One of the new, young faces of the co-operative movement, she sits on the National Co-operative Strategy Panel. She is also the co-director of the filmmaker’s co-operative Blake House, and knows what all the different modes on a camera do, even the obscura ones.
Constance co-founded Altgen in 2013 after several years of disillusionment in self-employment. A natural pedagogue, she explores educational methods and applies them in our workshops. She wants a new world where we organise and collaborate differently. As a graphic designer by training, Constance art directs our projects. She is mad for table tennis, and when not at Altgen can often be founding skulking by the public tables in Deptford looking for her next victim.
Henry is our newest member. He learned about co-operatives at university and, convinced that they are the best way for young people to empower themselves through work, sought Altgen out. As our secretary, he is most interested in the systems that get us to co-operate better, and when he’s not doing that he’s conducting research or writing copy. He’s currently learning how to bake and won’t shut up about it.