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The Incubation Method, a working tool from NuMI-EcoSol

During its working years, NuMI-EcoSol adopted as its type of work the incubation method, which was different from the work of most Technological Incubators of Popular Cooperatives (TIPC) for three reasons: 1) it did not present the requirement of a moment for stopping SEE incubation; 2) it could provoke by its own initiative incubation processes, after viability analysis and conditions to do that; 3) it presented a set of behaviors to be worked in the incubation condition. The Incubation Method provides the basis of what must be promoted with the enterprises and allows NuMI members to globally understand how their work is being developed according to what is expected. 

Regarding the fact that the method does not predict a moment for stopping incubation, NuMI-EcoSol’s team has considered that it is always desirable to have the enterprise autonomy expansion in regard to self-management, to Solidarity Economy principles and to the capacity of the enterprise overcoming its difficulties. Thus, it would not be necessary to previously establish a condition for breaking partnerships, except for situations that justify this act. Instead of breaking up the relationship with the enterprise, it is expected to have the latter as a partner of NuMI, working together to strengthen the actions and the movement of Solidarity Economy in its several levels.
In relation to NuMI’s incubation method working, it is presented in behaviors that must be promoted by the incubator’s members with the people from enterprises. The Incubation Method first version was systematized and presented to the team in the 1st INCOOP Internal Seminar in 2001. It had the following focused behaviors in order to have incubation: (a) identification and recruitment of potential members; (b) presentation and raising awareness of the actors involved (initial contact); (c) formation and consolidation of the potential group; (d) qualification for cooperativism; (e) choosing the economic activity; (f) technical qualification; (g) management qualification (self-management training); (h) (support for) statute development; (i) cooperative legalization (support for); (j) consulting for the cooperatives implementation activities.
Once having gathered experiences and reflections regarding the processes involved in the incubation, in 2003, there was the 2nd Internal Seminar, when the incubation method was evaluated and improved.
After some revisions, the Incubation Method most recent version, done in 2012, presents 22 behaviors that the NuMI’s team must promote. The behaviors are described divided into four parts: a) in which situation the behavior occurs or should occur; b) what NuMI’s team consider or should consider; c) what is expected as a result of this action and; d) how a NuMI’s member should act in order to process the demands of the focused behavior. Although the title of this last behavior may suggest a pre-established condition of action for a member of NuMI; actually, it is a set of working possibilities, without specifically defining how the subject should perform the task. The Incubation Method does not present the tools to evaluate the results – which most of time depend on observation – such as autonomy increase, self-management increase or increase in the population who knows some concepts or conditions. This occurs based on the understanding that each person may find the best way to evaluate his/her enterprise intervention.
The behaviors described in the last version of 2012 are the following: 1) To process demands for solidary enterprises incubation; 2) To identify population with potential to form solidary enterprises; 3) To characterize different people involved in the process of incubation; 4) To present Solidarity Economy as a possibility of organization to generate work and income, NuMI and its work proposal; 5) To support the group initial organization to make decisions concerning the formation of solidary enterprises and its general characteristics; 6) To elaborate work proposals, together with the members of the group that will be incubated; 7) To advise the group to choose the economic activity; 8) To promote continuous and permanent education for all members of the group in Solidarity Economy through all possible manners; 9) To promote continuous and permanent self-management training for all members of the group; 10) To promote conditions to continuous and permanent technical qualification for all members of the enterprise for the service/production offered by the enterprise; 11) To promote participatory elaboration of the enterprise working rules; 12) To advise the group to legalize the enterprise; 13) To advise the group to establish the enterprise; 14) To advise the group to establish a monitoring system through indicators; 15) To advise the group occasionally to implement the enterprise; 16) To advise the group to participate in cooperation networks and in initiatives of the Solidarity Economy movement; 17) To advise the incubated group to deal with the production processes and knowledge and technology use; 18) To advise the group to establish and keep partnerships; 19) To promote favorable conditions for social agents and agencies to establish partnerships with these enterprises and initiatives; 20) To advise enterprises to adopt practices of ethical, solidary and responsible consumption; 21) To advise enterprises to sell their products and services and; 22) To advise enterprises to plan and use strategies of promotion.
The Incubation Method elaboration, evaluation and improvement has always been done together with NuMI’s team. This shows the condition of collective agreements established for the center’s actions, as this is part of the intervention process and the reflection of practices. For this construction and systematization, the conceptual contributions made by the team are also considered, they come from all areas of knowledge that have contact with NuMI through its team. Thus, the Incubation Method is a document that will be constantly evaluated and updated. In this way, “the most recent version” represents part of the knowledge gathered in relation to the process of incubating in that moment, and it gradually gets outdated according to the new systematizations and experiences encountered by the collective in this process, which characterizes the Incubation Method as a document in constant process of permanent improvement.
To download the complete Incubation Method document click here. However, it is only available in Portuguese.