EO Catalyst Fund reaches nearly $6M in capital to aid in transitioning businesses

The Employee Ownership Catalyst Fund, Project Equity’s fund dedicated to providing flexible capital to businesses transitioning to employee ownership, has reached nearly $6M in committed capital. Since its launch timed with Labor Day in 2021, six businesses ranging from entertainment and food to education consulting have received financing for their transitions. The fund was designed to provide flexible capital to support all forms of broad-based employee ownership, and we have demonstrated our ability to do this. Co-managed by Mission Driven Finance, the EO Catalyst Fund has  financed all of the three main forms of broad-based employee ownership: worker cooperatives, Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs) and Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs).

Read some of the inspiring stories of ownership that were enabled by Project Equity and our EO Catalyst Fund:

 
Former owners and current staff at The Local Butcher Shop

The Local Butcher Shop, Berkeley, CA, Worker-owned cooperative

Project Equity was proud to assist The Local Butcher Shop in October 2021. The owners wanted to transfer the shop to their employees in order to keep their legacy and mission going as they prepared to step back from the business to focus on raising their family. 

Research Development Associates (RDA), Oakland, CA, EOT

RDA, a mission-driven consulting firm partners with diverse stakeholders to address barriers to individual, organizational and community well-being. When the prospect of retirement and succession planning came into the picture, the owner thought it was a great time to embed their values into the ownership and governance structure with employees. 

Local Ocean Seafoods, Oregon, EOT

Local Ocean Seafoods founder, Laura, has always been intrigued by the idea of transitioning to employee ownership to preserve the mission and values of the company while ensuring that workers have the opportunity to engage in governance and share in the profits. The EO Catalyst Fund provided a forgivable loan to defray extra costs associated with transitioning to an employee-owned company.

CT3 Education, San Francisco, CA, ESOP

CT3 is an equity-focused education consulting practice. The main drivers in choosing employee ownership were that they wanted to sell to the employees because it increases employee retention, and provides greater wealth to the individuals who do the work. The EO Catalyst Fund was a critical piece of the transition process and made it feasible for those involved.

Maximum Fun, California, Worker-owned cooperative 

Maximum Fun is a Los Angeles-based podcasting company with award-winning podcasts that are distributed to over 150 public radio stations. With so many small-businesses being gobbled up by large corporations, owner Jesse Thorn decided to go the opposite direction by selling to its 24 employees, and becoming a worker-owned cooperative. The flexible capital provided by the EO Catalyst Fund assisted with the costs of purchasing the business and transitioning to a worker coop.

Bellegarde Bakery, Louisiana, Worker-owned cooperative

When the founder of Bellegarde Bakery, a well-established bakery in New Orleans, LA was ready to move on to his next business venture he wanted a way to maintain the legacy that had been built while still providing an opportunity for all of the workers that had helped establish the business. With the help of Project Equity, and flexible capital from the EO Catalyst Fund, it transitioned to the first worker-owned cooperatives in New Orleans.

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