Dealflow | November 14, 2018

Evergreen Cooperatives launches fund to catalyze employee ownership

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, November 13 – Evergreen Cooperatives builds worker-owned businesses, giving low-income, low-skilled workers access to new economic opportunities. The Cleveland-based cooperative employs 250 people across its three businesses: an industrial laundry, an urban greenhouse, and an energy efficiency contractor.

Now in its tenth year, Evergreen Cooperatives is raising a fund to help existing businesses convert to a cooperative model, reports Next City. The Fund for Employee Ownership will cover the costs of buying-out business owners who want to sell their businesses or retire. It will then work to train employees to become the next owners and convert the business to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan model—the official structure for a cooperative.

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Evergreen Cooperatives’ fund is supported by the nonprofit Democracy Collaborative and has secured $5 million in convertible debt from an undisclosed investor. The fund is targeting the 63% of U.S. private businesses owned by Baby Boomers who may be looking for a succession plan.

On the employee side, the fund will target industries that employ “low-income people often with barriers to employment such as a criminal record,” NextCity reports.