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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

The Fund for Employee Ownership's Reflections on the Kendeda Fund's Big Bet

Back in 2018 the Kendeda Fund, a philanthropic foundation based in Atlanta, decided to make a series of big bets in areas that were both critical and timely. One of those areas was employee ownership and the investment made by Kendeda was historic. Over 5 years a total of $24 million dollars was provided to 4 employee owner support organizations. Those organizations include The Evergreen Cooperatives Fund for Employee Ownership, ICA Group, Nexus Community Partners, and Project Equity. The investment was made with four broad goals in mind – grow the number of employee-owned businesses, use patient capital to leverage investments, strengthen core elements of the employee ownership ecosystem, and amplify media coverage of employee ownership. Upon entering the 5th year of the grant, Kendeda contracted with the Ohio Employee Ownership Center to carry out a reflection process that looked back on what these four organizations where able to achieve, assess what they learned, and identify future actions that would further develop and expand employee ownership in the US. The reflection process relied on numerous forms of data collection including in-person meetings, long form one on one interviews with grantees, selling owners, and new employee owners, analysis of transition data, and comparisons of the four grantees models for transitioning companies to employee ownership. The culmination of our findings was then published in a narrative report that drew on the insights of all stakeholders involved, which we encourage you to read. However, like all reports, we could not include every bit of information we gathered. But we strongly felt it necessary to provide grantee organizations with the space to explain, in their own words, how and why they do the work they do, how Kendeda’s investment helped them expand their impact, and where they see their work going in the future. So, this interview with Jeanette Webster and Emma Sherrie of the Fund for Employee Ownership is one in a series of interviews we carried out with organization that received support from the Kendeda Fund.

Listen to the episode at Ohio Employee Ownership Center


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