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FAQs

About Purpose

Q:

When was Purpose founded?

A:

Purpose started in 2015 to enable companies to stay independent and purpose-driven through steward-ownership. Since then we have been rethinking ownership to transform the economy.

Q:

Who founded Purpose?

A:

Purpose was founded by Adrian and Achim Hensen, Alexander Kühl and Armin Steuernagel. Through their experiences as entrepreneurs and working in companies, they witnessed the impact conventional ownership and shareholder-maximizing business models can have on companies and people. They wanted to enable companies to choose a  path of ownership and financing that aligned with their mission, values, and vision of the future. They developed the concept of steward-ownership after over a year of research and began supporting companies to convert and raise capital on alternative terms.

Q:

How is Purpose financed?

A:

Different parts of the Purpose-network are financed differently. The goal of our investment and supporting service is to be financially self-sufficient through small investment fees. Our consulting activities are financed through service fees. For our non-profit work, we rely on donations from people and organisations who want to support us in creating open-source material and infrastructure for steward-ownership.

Q:

Is Purpose a non-profit?

A:

Purpose is a network of several legal entities that serve a global community of entrepreneurs, investors, and citizens who believe companies should remain independent and purpose-driven over the long term. This network includes non-profit organizations doing research and awareness building around the topic of steward-ownership for a purpose-driven economy and separate for-profit organizations with advising and investment activities.

Q:

Is Purpose international?

A:

Purpose is operating internationally with a focus on Germany, the US and Latin America, where our team is based. Additionally, we advise companies on how to implement steward-ownership all over the world, including among others most European countries, Indonesia, Australia, Colombia, Brazil and many more. Our open source material is globally accessible in English, German (and some in Spanish).

Q:

What kind of companies does Purpose Evergreen Capital support?

A:

Purpose Evergreen Capital is a holding company which makes non-voting long-term equity investments in mature, profitable, medium-sized companies that require capital to grow or to convert to steward-ownership. It serves as an alternative private equity investor financing buy-outs of investors or founder-successions in steward-owned companies or companies on their way to becoming steward-owned. Its investment capital amounts to approximately $32 million. Purpose Evergreen Capital invests in companies like Organically Grown Company, one of the largest wholesalers or organic food in the US, or Arche Naturküche, a German food producer, among others.

Q:

What kind of companies does Purpose Ventures support?

A:

Purpose Ventures is an alternative venture capital investment vehicle that  supports young steward-owned companies with growth capital. The main purpose of Purpose Ventures is to bring more steward-owned companies into the world, which is why we exclusively invest in steward-owned businesses. Purpose Ventures has approximately $20 million under management. Purpose Ventures primarily invests in seed and Series-A. Some of our investment companies include: Wildplastic, Sharetribe, Creative Action Network, and others.

Q:

Who is on the Purpose team?

A:

The Purpose team is an international mix of entrepreneurs, economists, investors, lawyers, psychologists and changemakers driven by the common goal of creating systemic change by rethinking ownership. There are currently 27 people working in the Purpose network.

Q:

Why do you do investments?

A:

Part of Purpose’s mission is to make transitioning to steward-ownership easier and more accessible to entrepreneurs and business leaders. To fulfill this mission, we have been building legal and financial infrastructure to make it possible to transition and grow your business in steward-ownership.

Rethinking ownership is not possible without rethinking financing; steward-owned companies need access to financing to grow and thrive. To help mobilize more capital on steward-ownership align terms, we established two investment vehicles: Purpose Ventures and Purpose Evergreen Capital. Both vehicles provide patient, purpose-aligned capital to steward-owned businesses. We only invest on non-voting terms with structured exits, so our portfolio companies will never be forced to exit to provide investors with liquidity.

Q:

How can I support Purpose?

A:

Donate: Donate money here to our non-profit work to help us create open-access material and infrastructure to facilitate transitioning to steward-ownership. For an economy that works for people and the planet.
Spread the word: Tell your network about steward-ownership to help us shift the paradigm in business to steward ownership.
Stay in touch: Join our movement. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on Purpose and the steward-ownership movement or write us an email.

Q:

How much does the veto-share service cost?

A:

If you opted for the so-called “golden-share model” or “veto-share model” to secure the principles of steward-ownership in your company ownership structure, our work does not end when we complete the consulting process. Our function as regulatory shareholder needs corresponding administration and necessary resources.

Every invitation to a shareholder meeting, shareholder resolutions, and annual financial statements need to be overseen and checked for their compliance with Purpose principles in order to assess whether to exercise our veto-right. Without this work and the necessary resources, we cannot be a responsible regulatory shareholder.

Therefore we rely on Purpose companies using the veto-share service to repay our engagement within their financial possibilities. We do not want as much money as possible from our clients. For us, it counts how much you and your company can afford and would like to spend. Our goal is to support companies regardless of their financial situation and not only those who can afford to pay high daily rates.

Q:

I would like to become part of your team. Is it possible to apply for a job at Purpose?

A:

Our PEC team is currently looking for a managing partner. You can find the job post here in German. Since we all work from home and don’t have a “Purpose office”, we don’t usually hire interns. That said, please feel free to reach out to us with an unsolicited application that can be send to workwithpurpose@purpose.ag

Internationalization

Q:

Where is the Purpose team active?

A:

The team is located in Germany, the US, and Chile, but our reach is international developing a global network of entrepreneurs, organizations, investors, and legal experts of steward-ownership.

Q:

What languages does the Purpose team speak?

A:

English, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, French, Portuguese (check if others).

Q:

My country is not covered by your international work yet. How can I implement a steward-ownership structure?

A:

We are constantly investigating – together with local lawyers and the tax-consultants – the legal implementation of steward-ownership in new countries. Please contact us to check if your country is already in the pipeline.

Q:

Is steward-ownership a structure that is recognized by the local corporate law of some country?

A:

No, steward-ownership is not a legal form (yet). There are different legal structures that incorporate the principles of steward-ownership principles in the DNA of a company and these vary according to the jurisdictions and the needs of the specific company.

Q:

If I use the open-source template for my country, what shall I check?

A:

The template represents a useful tool for the implementation of steward-ownership, but it shall be adjusted to the specifics of the company and reviewed by lawyers, tax-consultants and/or the Purpose team.

Q:

How much does the veto-share service cost?

A:

If you opted for the so-called “golden-share model” or “veto-share model” to secure the principles of steward-ownership in your company ownership structure, our work does not end when we complete the consulting process. Our function as regulatory shareholder needs corresponding administration and necessary resources.

Every invitation to a shareholder meeting, shareholder resolutions, and annual financial statements need to be overseen and checked for their compliance with Purpose principles in order to assess whether to exercise our veto-right. Without this work and the necessary resources, we cannot be a responsible regulatory shareholder.

Therefore we rely on Purpose companies using the veto-share service to repay our engagement within their financial possibilities. We do not want as much money as possible from our clients. For us, it counts how much you and your company can afford and would like to spend. Our goal is to support companies regardless of their financial situation and not only those who can afford to pay high daily rates.

Q:

How do you work in countries where you are not based?

A:

We conduct legal research on steward-ownership-legal structures and financial instruments in different jurisdictions with the advice of local lawyers and develop open-source documents to facilitate companies with the transition to steward-ownership. We prioritize the jurisdictions based on the interest and need shown by the local entrepreneurs. We build partnerships with like-minded organizations that want to support steward-ownership in their country/region.

Further, we advise companies from different countries that want to transition to a steward-ownership structure and we invest in steward-owned companies, irrespective of the jurisdiction.

Q:

How can I help to foster steward-ownership in my country?

A:

Whether you are an organization sharing our vision of the economy, an entrepreneur, an investor, a lawyer, an academic institution, or a tax or business consultant interested in supporting our mission, please contact us. There are many ways to support: through your expertise, your network, your publications, or a partnership.

Future Plans

Q:

How can I help to foster steward-ownership in my country?

A:

Whether you are an organization sharing our vision of the economy, an entrepreneur, an investor, a lawyer, an academic institution, or a tax or business consultant interested in supporting our mission, please contact us. There are many ways to support: through your expertise, your network, your publications, or a partnership.

Q:

How do you work in countries where you are not based?

A:

We conduct legal research on steward-ownership-legal structures and financial instruments in different jurisdictions with the advice of local lawyers and develop open-source documents to facilitate companies with the transition to steward-ownership. We prioritize the jurisdictions based on the interest and need shown by the local entrepreneurs. We build partnerships with like-minded organizations that want to support steward-ownership in their country/region.

Further, we advise companies from different countries that want to transition to a steward-ownership structure and we invest in steward-owned companies, irrespective of the jurisdiction.