Financing Alternative Enterprise Project

Alternative Enterprise
August 11, 2022

Even as many entrepreneurs and investors embrace the call to tackle the crises of the 21st century, most continue to employ traditional enterprise structures. This traditional story – where a single founder seeks growth capital from investors who take a significant ownership stake in the enterprise to maximize their return, and runs a company top-down to hit return targets – can lead to mission drift, unintended consequences of business activity, wealth extraction, and the growing gap in power between investors and workers and communities.

Models that de-center the role and power of investors – like steward and trust-owned enterprises, worker cooperatives and other employee ownership models, multi-stakeholder cooperatives, fair trade enterprises, platform cooperatives, and others – provide viable alternatives. They question who owns what, who decides what, how incentives and constraints are structured and, critically, how investment terms either promote or hinder enterprises that are in line with building a viable future.

However, most investors are unfamiliar with them, or unsure how to finance such Alternative Enterprise models. To support investors interested in alternative ownership and governance, Transform Finance, together with the Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL) and other field partners, is undertaking a project encompassing research, investor roundtables, and training modules.

Project Goals

1. An increased understanding for investors of alternative enterprise models.
2. Clarity around the investment structures that can support alternative enterprise models.
3. Understanding investor constraints and getting capital off the sidelines.

How to get involved

In our current research phase, we are keen to talk to 1) partners and practitioners in the field who have a sense of major deals, models, and organizations we should be aware of, and 2) business and investment practitioners who have experience developing and/or investing in alternative enterprises.

We would love to be in touch and learn from you. What models have you seen? What constraints and stumbling blocks have you experienced?

Please feel free to reach out at

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