Cooperative society with social purpose

A cooperative society …

Nubo has chosen a legal form which best reflects its values: a cooperative society with a social purpose. In this way, cooperators co-own the structure of which they are technically the decision-makers through the General Assembly (GA).

The business model of the user cooperative is so far rarely used for digital enterprises in Belgium. However, it offers the opportunity to guarantee users the transparency needed to manage personal data and the guarantee that the structure pursues their interests rather than requiring financial returns.

This operation of the cooperative allows users to place trust in the structure that manages the services rather than in the myriad criteria that a private company must meet to provide sufficient guarantees - the lack of transparency makes trust impossible in any case.

This work that involves cooperation and trust is carried out in a dynamic of proximity: meetings with co-workers, co-responsibility for data and services, national legislation closer to our reality… The collective management of the infrastructure allows everyone to take control of their private digital lives.

… with a social purpose

Nubo pursues a social purpose, defined in its bylaws as follows: “The company’s main objective is to promote free tools for information and communication technologies. The cooperative is committed to transparency and social democracy, with particular attention to privacy. The cooperative wants to promote neutral and transparent communication tools that convey autonomy, control and trust to its users and support them in this.”

The social purpose provides a legal framework for a set of principles to which the cooperative is committed:

  • democratic processes, limitation of the number of votes per person,
  • participation of employees,
  • not seeking to enrich shareholders,
  • allocation of profits for achieving a social objective defined in the statutes,
  • non-discrimination in the taking of shares
  • preparation of an annual report on how the company achieves its objective.

The cooperative has also obtained recognition as a cooperative with the NRC (National Council for Cooperatives), which guarantees that the company:

[…] operates in accordance with cooperative values and principles and promotes socially responsible, solidarity-based, democratic and non-speculative entrepreneurship.

In the spirit of respecting the processing of our personal data and our digital lives, it is clear that Nubo believes that the human issues of the cooperative should also be handled in an ethical manner.

Principles of Nubo

Nubo is based on three fundamental values. These values form the basis of the social purpose of the cooperative and they guarantee the “ethics” of the project. The core values derive from the principles that the cooperative champions, defends and protects, and through which Nubo ensures that its values are applied.

Co-ownership of infrastructure.

The cooperative manages the infrastructure and the use of personal data. It makes every effort to protect personal data from a technical, but also from a legal point of view. Everyone’s data remain their property and remain within the realm of their private lives.

A structure on a human scale

Nubo encourages solidarity between users and ensures that everyone finds help, regardless of their level of knowledge or competence. Nubo’s internal governance allows shareholders and employees to participate as democratically as possible in collective decision-making.

A local enterprise

Nubo is a local community; the cooperative owns its servers and has physical access to them. The cooperative is based in Belgium and pays its taxes there. Nubo takes shape through local action and personal meetings, for example in the form of trainings, debates, presentations, workshops… a network of structures active in the digital sector and promoting common values. The cooperative is part of existing communities and cooperates with strong networks (association network, community of free software and its establishment, LibreHosters, CHATONS…). It stands for a social approach, transparency and the joint construction of networks for mutual support.

Individual freedoms

Nubo respects privacy and freedom of expression. Nubo refuses advertising, tracking, profiling, filtering, targeting, etc., does not use personal data for these purposes and does not sell or transfer them. The cooperative raises awareness and provides information about the challenges of digital technology and its effects on society and the individual. It gives control back to users.

Independence and digital empowerment

The services offered or developed are based on the following criteria: their simplicity (they are easy to use), their efficiency (they respect a good ratio between price and quality), their integration (access and configurations are no more complex than necessary), their nomadism (they can be used on different devices of different types) and their documentation (they are made accessible and understandable).

The internet we want

Nubo supports and participates in building and maintaining a free, open, neutral and decentralized Internet. The cooperative documents its technical operation and facilitates the migration of data for its users (import and export of data, change of service provider). Nubo supports similar existing and future initiatives. The multiplication of ethical services is more important than establishing a monopoly. Nubo’s services are based on free and open source software, open formats and standard protocols. Open source software is the cornerstone of the project; it is a common good that must be protected and maintained. The cooperative returns a portion of the profits generated (funding, support, development, etc.) to the community.