About Sumthing

5 lessons after a year Steward Ownership

published on
January 16, 2024

Over the past few months, we've witnessed a significant surge in interest for StewardOwnership, the model we embraced just over a year ago to structure Sumthing. This trend is evident in the rise of new steward-owned enterprises and in existing organizations where entrepreneurs are securing the future of their businesses. A year on, it's a fitting moment to reflect on this choice and extract lessons from the past year.

Steward Ownership is accelerating.

Our Steward Ownership model, coupled with recognition as a Social Enterprise, cements our integrity and mission: to make the largest possible positive impact in a transparent and fair manner. Customers and partners have no fear of a change in direction: Sumthing is and remains self-owned. Our mission is enshrined in our statutes and safeguarded by an external foundation (the Golden Share Foundation). By focusing on long-term impact rather than quick, short-term profits, we build sustainable relationships and trust. This enhances our traction with both our customers and project partners.

Unique business models attract exceptional people.

Since Sumthing's inception, we've gathered a remarkable group of people around us who voluntarily think along and support us wherever possible. This includes our Stewards, the Sumthing Score panel, and countless individuals and organizations assisting us in achieving our mission. We are convinced that our Steward Ownership model contributes to the willingness of people and organizations to play their part in Nature’s Comeback Story.

A shift in investment trends?

Within traditional capital markets, investing in steward-owned companies is not yet common, and the available capital is (still) limited. There are various reasons for this (limited influence, possibly capped returns), but we also see growing interest. At a recent event, an investment manager from a fund that does invest in such companies explained that the mission-lock and permanent impact focus are reasons for their investment in steward-owned enterprises. Last year, we witnessed several successful funding rounds, and we look forward to our future with confidence!

The movement is growing rapidly.

We are increasingly asked about our structure, our funding round, and our business model. We are convinced that this will only increase in the coming years. The era of unlimited shareholder capitalism seems over, and we need to shift towards a new, regenerative economy where stewards, not shareholders, set the course.

Making your company steward-owned is becoming easier.

The choice for Steward Ownership was quickly made after Lisette Schuitemaker introduced us to this concept. However, implementation proved more challenging and quite costly. Last year, a group of amazing initiators created blueprints to help Dutch companies become steward-owned. This makes the legal side much more accessible. Fantastic!

If you find this topic interesting and would like to discuss it further, please feel free to contact us!

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