The Schokofabrik cooperative: Genossinnenschaft Schokofabrik eG

On December 10, 2004, the contract of sale was signed by Berlin’s not-for-profit housing association GSW (Gemeinnützige Siedlungs- und Wohnungs­bau­gesellschaft) and the Schokofabrik cooperative plus the fourteen buyers of the individual apartments in the residential building. With that, the four buildings at Mariannenstrasse 6 and Naunynstrasse 72, Berlin’s largest women’s center, the Schokofabrik, became women-owned property.


 “All ours!” announced Anne Wulf after the signing. Wulf is financial advisor and member of the cooperative’s supervisory board. After fundraising campaigns and months of negotiations to buy the buildings near Heinrichplatz in Kreuzberg, enough private lenders and then 76 cooperative members who purchased shares came together to make the sale possible in the first place. These shares in the cooperative, sale of apartments to fourteen women, a € 250,000-mortgage by the BHW home savings and loan association, plus private loans brought together the sale price of € 966,000.


Now the cooperative rents the roughly 1000 m2 (more than 10,000 sq.ft.) comprising the Schokofabrik women’s center to the Schokofabrik organization (Verein). This has secured the future existence of the women’s center, which was started twenty-seven years prior to the purchase, when the ruins of the former chocolate factory were squatted by women. Long-term plans include renting the space in the street-facing building (Vorderhaus) of Mariannenstrasse 6 to other women’s projects and companies. The start was made when the CaféBar Marianne moved into the storefront space on August 1, 2008.


Our cooperative is still young, but meanwhile has 104 members. We continue to seek new members interested in getting involved. A cooperative thrives from the idea of cooperation and collectivism, and a growing number of members.


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2006 “Social City” Award


from the statement of the jury:


The Schokofabrik has served as a women’s center for a quarter of a century, and when the financing—and thus the survival—of the center became uncertain in 2003, the women took their fate into their own hands and founded a cooperative. The jury would like to commend this special dedication. The continuity in use of the Schokofabrik has led to a very wide range of services; it is unusual and thus a benefit far beyond the neighborhood itself.