Commons Equity Society

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= "a mutual aid membership Society that manages the relationships within and between an ecosystem of organisations. It has an ethos of purposeful, accountable activity that opens up a community space between public and private ownership that releases cash, creativity and contentment into its communities". [1]

URL = https://www.commonssociety.org/


Definition

"The Commons Equity Society’s ownership design limits the degree to which capital can accumulate and concentrate in one single place. This is firstly because wealth, as it is created, is distributed in ways that create virtuous circles of transformation. It is also because the organisational units (eg companies) held within the Commons Equity Society cannot be traded and thereby be de-purposed. So the biggest and richest cannot simply buy smaller competitors. Instead of corporations enclosing land, capital and nature and renting them back to society for their shareholders profit, we propose to “re-enclose” them – through commons-owned networks – that will divert and direct surplus to where it is needed." (https://www.commonssociety.org/)


Description

"Currently, there is no automatic mechanism within the market to protect and build the commons, nor is there any institution within the State that exists to do so.

However, a new kind of institution ‘A Commons Equity Society’, a mutual ownership and financing structure, offers an architecture that can use the energy of enterprise to develop shared value and community wellbeing by extending the commons.

“One of the unresolved issues facing most commons, is how to assure their independence when the dominant systems of finance, banking and money are so hostile – without replicating the structural problems of the dominant money system”. A Commons Equity Society offers one answer.

By mutually owning surplus-producing companies through a Commons Equity Society we can invest in the things that matter by using the system to create a new system.

The Commons Equity Society is the means by which people can simultaneously provide for their own security whilst serving that which they have in common with others.

It works by simply redirecting corporate surplus back to the community – either because a corporation has been given into the Commons, bought into the Commons or grew in the Commons.

The mechanism for distributing the surplus flows 3 ways: to those that made it, to a core economic development fund and out into the community.

The distribution of cash into the community is not ad-hoc, it is knitted into the structure of the Commons Equity Society, such that, the cultural and social benefit of the surplus develops the capacity of the whole.

Three cycles driving three motivations: self-interest, common-interest and care for the other." (https://www.commonssociety.org/)


Characteristics

"‘A Commons Equity Society’ is a prototype design for a community wealth-building network that uses the surplus of for-profit companies to develop community owned income and assets, thereby transforming companies into engines of social change.


A Commons Equity Society achieves 3 things within the market and without government intervention:

  • Separates surplus from ownership
  • De-commodifies equity, and
  • Provides mechanisms to fairly and intelligently distribute surplus for community benefit."

(https://www.commonssociety.org/)


3-Stage Scaling

"We have a 3 step path to take the first Commons Equity Society, to scale:


  • Stage One
  1. Raising funds for the legal drafting of the Commons Equity Society constitutional template and for a short animation to explain the model
  2. Applying for seed funding to establish a skilled team to bring the concept to second stage fruition
  3. Developing a membership community to support the process


  • Stage Two
  1. Identifying potential SME businesses that are interested in securing their legacy in perpetuity by becoming part of a Commons Society structure
  2. Appointing a company acquisition and finance team to identify, dialogue and negotiate the first company purchases with enterprise owners
  3. Establishing a commons secretariat and communications team for the support, development, management and transparency of the network


  • Stage Three
  1. Issuing a bond prospectus and video to raise funds to buy larger companies
  2. Bringing on board a well known major charitable foundation with expertise in the governance and distribution of substantial grant monies
  3. Launching publicly the first Commons Equity Society to demonstrate proof of concept at a regional scale



Discussion

"A Commons Equity Society is a mutual aid membership Society that manages the relationships within and between an ecosystem of organisations. It has an ethos of purposeful, accountable activity that opens up a community space between public and private ownership that releases cash, creativity and contentment into its communities through a new economic architecture independent of government.

A Commons Equity Society is more than a new business model for a single social enterprise. It is an economic network or civil ecology of for-profit and not-for-profit organisations and new institutions under a single umbrella whose architecture connects them together in a mutually supportive way.

A Commons Equity Society offers a new paradigm that mixes the best of commercial business and public service. It is a network of organisations connected in such a way that enables them to collectively function as a community wealth management system. It is best thought of less as an innovative individual organisation than as a network and infrastructure within the free market that by nature of its design functions to enable enterprise to naturally perform in a socially beneficial way.

It uses the exponential forces of the market to expand and scale up by means of an Economic Development Fund, an embryonic Commons Bank, that purchases new companies into the structure. At the same time it invests in the social and environmental commons through an internal community fund, which is supported through its hard coded virtuous circle of surplus distribution. The Community Commons Fund is democratically managed by the members and curates, stewards and empowers a portfolio of civil society services to support the wellbeing of the members, the wider community and their environment. Consequently it can be thought of as a kind of commercial mutual provident society driven by the surplus of member companies rather than the savings of individuals.

The governance of the Commons Equity Society manages the space in between its member organisations to protect their interdependence and maximize mutual benefit. It uses a combination of existing legal mechanisms to focus the energy of individual initiative and enterprise in building a stable self-regulating ‘domestic economy’ that may be local, national or international.

It is distinct from other mutual forms such as co-operatives or single social enterprises or even community benefit societies because of its systemic approach. Unlike worker owned companies that simply distribute and consume their surplus (for example John Lewis and Scott Bader in the UK), a Commons Equity Society is a systemic engine for change because of its inherent ability for company capture and structural logic which invests in the commons through built in mechanisms for expansion and stability." (https://www.commonssociety.org/about-elysia-commons/)


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