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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: March 2016

Entrepreneurs Looking To Exit, Your Employees May Be Your Buyers

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Twin threats to economic growth and prosperity can both be addressed by increasing employee ownership, according to Camille Kerr, Co-Director, of Workers to Owners at Democracy at Work.

The first problem, she explains, is the aging baby boomer generation of entrepreneurs and business owners. “Right now, the United States is in an ownership crisis. As business owners in the baby boomer generation retire, an estimated $10 trillion in assets will be for sale. Because of the flood of businesses on the market, many will not find buyers. The jobs, wealth potential, and services they provided to their community will be lost, and their value will be liquidated. Even those that are sold are often downsized or relocated.”

The second problem is a workforce struggling to get back on the economic track. She says, “Much of the workforce still has not recovered from the Great Recession. In a larger trend that started over 30 years ago, wages have remained stagnant and many Americans are in jobs that lack security and benefits. Their income fails to pay the bills, let alone allow them to own a home or a business.”

Kerr says the answer is clear. “The solution to both sides of this ownership crisis is democratic employee ownership. With employee ownership, selling owners can structure a flexible exit from the business and receive a fair value for their shares, while giving workers the opportunity to accumulate wealth and have a more meaningful work life.”

That said, problems remain. “There are currently thousands of businesses that are strong candidates for becoming employee-owned, but only a handful of them know about the option and have access to the support they need to make the transition,” Kerr adds.

This is where Kerr focuses her time. She says, “We are working to change that. Understanding the magnitude of the task, we have convened a collaborative of nonprofits, finance institutions, business advisers, and others already working in the field. This group, called Workers to Owners, is working to make transitions to employee ownership the norm for retiring owners.”

Kerr sees great potential in her work to change the fortunes of American workers. “In a U.S. economy with significant employee ownership, inequality will be greatly diminished. Workers will have the opportunity to accumulate wealth by participating in the profitability that their work creates. Hopefully, widespread employee ownership will eliminate the concept of ‘the working poor.’ We’ve seen that the financial benefits of being a worker-owner can have a profound impact on workers’ personal lives, giving them the option to purchase a house or make the decision to retire,” Kerr concludes.

On Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Kerr will join me for a live discussion about her work to address the twin threats to economic prosperity in America. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about the Democracy at Work Institute:

Twitter: @dematwork

The Democracy at Work Institute advances worker ownership as a strategy to create a fairer economy and better jobs, build local wealth, and retain businesses in communities. Created by the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the Institute brings both a national birds-eye view and an experiential on-the-ground understanding of cooperative business. Through strategic research, organizing and capacity-building training, we are working to bring the worker cooperative movement to scale to effect transformative change for individuals and communities throughout the country.

Camille Kerr, courtesy of the Democracy at Work Institute

Camille Kerr, courtesy of the Democracy at Work Institute

Kerr’s bio:

Twitter: @camikerr

Camille developed and co-directs Workers to Owners, a national collaboration of leading organizations committed to making it easy and common for small businesses to become employee-owned. Before joining the Democracy at Work Institute, she worked as the Director of Research at the National Center for Employee Ownership, launching the organization’s outreach initiative and managing its various research projects. Camille speaks frequently about employee ownership and has contributed to a number of publications. Camille also serves as chair of the board of directors for Prospera, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the economic and social well-being of low-income women through cooperative business ownership. She earned a J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she was a Human Rights Fellow and graduated cum laude. Camille is currently a licensed attorney in California.

Proven Impact VC Seeks To Mentor Fund Managers In Developing World

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

By some measures, the world is awash in cash, much of it available to be invested in emerging markets with a social purpose. For instance, the world’s largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has assets of $3.3 trillion. The constraint on impact investing may be expertise rather than capital.

According to Dave Richards, cofounder and Managing Director of Capria Ventures an affiliate of Unitus, explains the constraint. There are, he says, “lots of great entrepreneurs in high-growth emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia and very little early-stage risk capital available, so their businesses aren’t realizing their potential in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, education and technology.”

The cause, he asserts, isn’t the lack of capital. He says, “What’s needed are on-the-ground, knowledgeable, capable fund managers who can provide smart capital and support to the best entrepreneurs.”

To address this problem, Richards says, “We have launched Capria Accelerator, the first global business accelerator for impact fund managers. We are taking our experience of building the leading impact seed fund in India along with Unitus’ experience over a decade of launching multiple fund managers to invest in, support and help capitalize new fund managers backing early-stage startups primarily in markets including Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.”

“Our goal is to launch 10 early-stage funds over the next 5 years in emerging markets,” he adds.

This approach, training local fund managers to be effective with local investing holds promise, according to Richards. “Local business solutions led by local entrepreneurs are both more likely to succeed (due to understanding local nuances) and provide better (more inclusive) economic development than depending on importing multi-national corporations.”

“Our vision is to build a new generation of local fund managers who can support the development of a growing indigenous entrepreneurial ecosystem in developing countries,” Richards concludes.

On Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 2:00 Eastern, Richards will join me for a live discussion about the Capria Accelerator and its efforts to facilitate growth capital for entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Capria Ventures:

Twitter: @capriavc

Capria Ventures is a global impact investment firm that manages two pioneering ventures: Unitus Seed Fund and Capria Accelerator. Founded in 2012, Unitus Seed Fund is the leading impact venture seed fund investing in startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus Seed Fund invests in sectors including healthcare, education, mobile, consumer, retail, ecommerce, financial services, and agriculture. Founded in 2015, Capria Accelerator is the first global business accelerator for impact fund managers. Capria Accelerator invests in and supports startup fund managers backing early-stage startups in markets including Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Capria is backed by Unitus, a pioneering financial services group that address global problems with innovative, market-driven solutions and has collectively raised more than $1.2 billion since 2005. Capria has offices in Seattle and Bangalore.

Dave Richards, courtesy of Capria

Dave Richards, courtesy of Capria

Richards’ bio:

Twitter: @rdaver

Dave Richards is an experienced entrepreneur, executive, and global early-stage investor. In 2012, he cofounded Unitus Seed Fund, now the leading venture seed fund investing in startups innovating for the masses in India. In 2015, Dave cofounded Capria Accelerator, the first global accelerator for impact fund managers. Unitus Seed Fund is an affiliate of Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000.

Dave has been an early investor in microfinance and other businesses serving low-income populations. Since 2005, he has been involved with the Unitus Group, helping to lead efforts to select and invest in entrepreneurs in many developing countries. Dave led the Unitus Labs incubator for 2 years including the successful research and spinout of two venture firms: Unitus Impact and Unitus Seed Fund. He also led Unitus Investment Management, the General Partner of Unitus Equity Fund, a pioneering microfinance venture fund, was a board member of Unitus Capital, a leading Bangalore-based investment bank, and was on the investment committee for Unitus Impact.

Previously, Dave developed and led multiple high-growth technology businesses at RealNetworks, Sybase and Symantec SYMC +4.63% from startup to multiple hundred million dollar global enterprises. He is currently a partner with Social Venture Partners Seattle is the cofounder of the SVP Fast Pitch startup angel fund. Dave received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia.

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