Social Capital Partners, the Toronto-based nonprofit, has made a specialty out of convincing Canada’s pension funds to invest in U.S. worker-ownership conversions through employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs (see, “Canadian pension fund backs Taylor Guitars’ conversion to employee ownership”).
Partners Jonathan Shell and Bill Young, with their own money, are building The Ownership Fund, a demonstration portfolio of companies and funds that facilitate broader ownership of homes and businesses.
“There’s too much private equity. There’s too much consolidation,” Shell told ImpactAlpha. He said the fund’s portfolio could grow from the current eight holdings to as many as two dozen in the next year. “All of those things fit within a theme of ensuring that the economy doesn’t end up being owned by fewer and fewer people in a consolidated fashion.”
Many of the fund’s investments are familiar to ImpactAlpha readers, including Apis & Heritage Capital Partners, which focuses on ESOP conversions at companies with large BIPOC workforces and Common Trust, which helps small business owners convert to employee-focused “ownership trusts” (listen to Common Trust’s Zoe Schlag on the Impact Briefingpodcast).
The Blackstar Stability Distressed Debt Fund buys predatory contract-for-deed home loans and helps homeowners transition to more stable, traditional mortgages. Indiegraf is a platform for journalists starting local newsletters.
“We want the portfolio to run the gamut of all things you can use to try to disaggregate ownership to people who otherwise don’t have access,” Shell said.