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Multi-Stakeholder Model Exploratory Committee

Meeting schedule: Every other Wednesday, 1-2 PM, in person and on Zoom

Committee Chair: Thea Hart, Communications & Development Manager

Chair contact: info@faresharecoop.org

Dear Fare Share Food Cooperative Member-Owners,

The FSFC Board of Directors has recently taken up a far-reaching initiative to look again into the foundations of our Co-op: its mission and structure. Because this initiative is so global in its view, we wanted to share it with the whole membership, and invite you all to join in the process. We have established a Multi-Stakeholder Model Exploratory Committee, with staff, board, and member-owner representation.  

Fare Share is a consumer co-op, owned by a single group of stakeholders — consumers. You may be aware of other types of cooperative models such as worker-owned or producer-owned. This new committee has been formed to explore a multi-stakeholder structure wherein different "classes" of owners — consumers, workers (and potentially other stakeholders) are defined with rights and responsibilities more proportionate to their respective stakes in the co-op.

We are exploring the possibility of transitioning our cooperative from its current single-stakeholder, consumer-owned model, to a multi-stakeholder model, with both consumer- and employee-owners.  This new structure would create an additional class of ownership which would give employees the opportunity for proportionate financial investment in our Co-op and further representation on our Board. This Committee was formed in response to the FSFC staff presentation to the Member-Owners at our fall Member-Owner meeting, sharing their concerns and asking that this alternative model be given consideration by the FSFC Board and Member-Owners.  

The discussion thus far has been both philosophical and practical - stepping back to get a better understanding of the multi-stakeholder model and looking at not just how and if this model would benefit the Co-op into the future, but also why it is being brought forward at this time.  What role do workers play in the success of the cooperative and what role do we have as a co-op to support our workers? What is our future vision as a food cooperative community?  How does our current/future structure impact FSFC’s role in the larger community? 

Tapping into the diverse experience, perspective, and input of our Member-Owner community is a necessary and valuable asset for an effort of this scope.  If you have experience with, or resources that you are currently using related to, a multi-stakeholder model, ideally in a food cooperative or similar cooperative structure, please share!  If this exploration raises questions, concerns or suggestions, please share! The more opinions and ideas that are shared, the more robust this process will be.   

The Board invites all Member-Owners who are interested in this initiative to join us at one of our upcoming Multi-Stakeholder Model Exploratory Committee meetings in person or through Zoom. Please contact the committee Chair, Thea Hart, at info@faresharecoop.org to join us.   

The Board is committed to learning all that we can about hybrid cooperatives and the pros and cons of adopting a multi-stakeholder structure, with the ultimate goal of supporting the resilience and future evolution of our Co-op.  


Sincerely, 

FSFC Board of Directors

Want to learn more about Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives?

Here are some resources:

  • Solidarity as a Business Model by Margaret Lund

  • Building a Co-op Economy in Maine—And Perhaps in Your State Too by Davis Taylor & Rob Brown

  • Fedco Seeds, on being a worker- and consumer-owned multi-stakeholder cooperative:

    • "Since 1978 we have organized our business as a worker/consumer co-operative — one of the few such co-ops in the US! A co-op is an alternative business model based on democratic principles where our workers and customers own the business together. Every owner gets a vote in the big decisions facing the co-op, and has equal access to shared financial information about the business. We work against the growing income inequality in our country. Instead of sending annual profits to a wealthy few, we give excess profits back to our co-op owners (workers and consumers) every year as dividends! And instead of extracting labor from our peers by paying them as little as we can, we instead lift them up by paying meaningful wages and maintaining a 3.5:1 top-to-bottom pay ratio."

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