Omar Freilla is co-founder and steering committee member of Collective Diaspora, a global community of Black cooperatives & Black-led cooperative support organizations.
Omar is a serial trailblazer, social entrepreneur, and movement builder dedicated to community self-determination and regenerative economies.
Drawing from his experiences growing up in the South Bronx and witnessing struggles for community empowerment, he has dedicated himself to creating just and regenerative economic systems.
Omar’s time with the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance and Sustainable South Bronx inspired him to utilize cooperatives as a vehicle for transformative economic development.
He established Green Worker Cooperatives and launched the first worker cooperative business accelerator in the United States, pioneering innovative approaches to cooperative development. Omar co-founded several local and national cooperative support organizations, including the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the Democracy At Work Institute, and the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives.
Omar is also an adjunct lecturer at the City College of New York, serves on the City of New York’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board, and is a member of New York State’s Just Transition Working Group.
This interview opened my eyes to the potential of new worker-led economic models for historically marginalized and economically exploited communities. It also made me re-evaluate the privileges I’ve experienced.
What We Discuss
What we discuss
02:50 Who is Omar?
03:50 Who or what made him?
06:50 The impact of neoliberalism on marginalized Communities
08:50 A defining memory that affected his life direction
17:50 Nature or nurture impact on his development
21:30 Early activism against apartheid
25:20 Early ambitions
27:30 Becoming environmentally conscious
30:50 Activism triggered by the Rodney King beating
34:35 Seeking out new economic alternatives in Cooperatives
40:50 The lack of Venture funding for cooperatives
43:40 Creating new Benchmarks for Return on Investment
45:10 What Omar is working to achieve with Collective Diaspora
49:45 Forming a Cooperative Business
54:00 Becoming a Fellow of Echoing Green
1:00:30 Imperative for Black and Latin Cooperatives
1:07:54 Omar’s ambitions for 2030
1:10:00 Raising funding
1:16:00 How to become part of the Collective Diaspora
1:18:00 Remaining resolute
1:19:45 Omar’s gifts
1:20:40 What he’s complimented for
1:22:00 Omar’s advice for anyone wanting to support