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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

WAGES (Women's Action to Gain Economic Security)

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: WAGES’ mission is to build worker-owned green businesses that create healthy, dignified jobs for low-income women. In our cooperatives, women gain good jobs, develop new skills, become leaders in their communities, and increase their economic security.

Results: Over the past decade, WAGES has built four successful green housecleaning cooperatives serving the Bay Area that have given hundreds of women the opportunity to become financially secure, gain business skills, and lead healthier, fuller lives. Overall, co-op members earn 50-100% more than they would make working for a conventional cleaning company, and on average, their household incomes have increased by more than 50% since joining a WAGES affiliated co-op. Most have health and dental insurance, along with other benefits through the co-op, and members build assets through their retained earnings held within the business. The co-ops also prevent the release of thousands of pounds of harmful chemicals into our air and water each year. The two largest co-ops average 30 members each and 1 million in annual sales.

Target demographics: Since 1998, WAGES has focused on creating jobs for Latina immigrant women, who become members of housecleaning cooperatives that use environmentally friendly cleaning techniques to protect worker health and the environment, while building stable, lucrative businesses.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a professional working with worker cooperatives for 15 years, and two of their most common challenges are the inability to balance mission with business savvy and failure to replicate. WAGES addresses both of these challenges head on in a spectacular way. It creates vibrant cooperative businesses that fulfill a strong environmental, social, gender, and racial justice mission. It also has replication built into its structure: expect to see green women-owned worker co-ops showing up in your region before long!


Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm proud to serve as a Board Member of this non-profit, which creates worker-owned eco-friendly home cleaning businesses in the Latina community. Being worker-owners has a huge impact on the personal and family income for the women involved, as well as reducing the health impacts (asthma, reproductive hazards, etc.) of cleaning chemicals by using the least toxic ones available. This is good for the women in the business, their clients -and- the environment, win-win all around.


Board Member

Rating: 5

I have used Natural Homes Cleaning Cooperative that was started by WAGES. Through my involvement with them I have developed a greater understanding of the toxic effects of most house cleaning methods. I am so thankful for their environmentally friendly cleaning methods that are both wonderful cleaning work and safe for me and the environment