Thank you to everyone who attended our webinar last week on Alternative Ownership Enterprises. It was a wonderful and engaging conversation, thanks to the 150+ of you who participated.
In particular, we give a big thanks to Margot Kane of Spring Point Partners, who shared many insights not just from an investor perspective, but from an advocate for the power of shared ownership in the economy.
We covered a lot of ground in just an hour, and there was a lot of juiciness in the chat. Here are a few nuggets that are sticking with us:
- Curt defined Alternative Ownership Enterprises: firms that significantly shift economic value and decision-making power toward the non-investor stakeholders they impact, such as workers, producers, consumers, community members, or even a non-financial purpose.
- Margot shared how the experience of Spring Point Partners over the past several years has lessons for other mission-oriented investors getting into this space. In particular, risk needs to be redefined to include the impact risk of not investing in shared ownership, and how ownership can actually reduce risk from a governance perspective. There is a major gap between actual risk and perceived risk.
- Julie introduced the various dimensions across which we compared AOEs in our report: 1) economic rights, or the rights to receive financial benefits from an enterprise, 2) governance rights, or the rights to control a company, and 3) mission preservation mechanisms that structurally protect a company’s impact.
- Several members of the audience highlighted that while some AOE models may be new to investors, they are not actually new. For example, cooperatives were central in Black power-building in post-slavery U.S. South, and still remains a vehicle for economic autonomy in the Global South. However, financial infrastructure remains embryonic, which limits these models’ ability to scale.
- We also saw conversation that connected capital to so many other necessary areas of work to make AOEs thrive: incentives and a supportive environment through policy, awareness and education for all stakeholders, and support for companies who aren’t even aware of alternative ownership models. As Margot said, we need a big tent approach if we are to address all of these issues as a field, but must remain committed to transformative impact.
Resources and Links
There were a lot of helpful resources shared with the group to enrich our understanding of different enterprise ownership models and how they can be used for transformative impact.
Transform Finance content:
- Alternative Ownership Enterprises Learning Hub (includes flagship report on Alternative Ownership Enterprises, SSIR article on the need for impact guardrails when investing in AOEs, briefing on how to convert companies to employee ownership using a private equity fund model and more)
- Our report on Participatory Investment, which includes discussion of several models of shared ownership in real estate and in community investment funds.
Other resources shared during the webinar:
- Podcasts: Economic Update, Ownership Economy
- Policy: EEIA press release
- Book: Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice by Jessica Gordon Nembhard
- Website: Employee Ownership + Workplace Democracy
- Other articles: Sullivan Tires example, Finding the right amount of investor power
We held a 2nd Webinar on Alternative Ownership Enterprises on January 31st, 2024: Closing the Racial Wealth Gap by Shifting Ownership. View the recording here.