Steward-ownership models

Steward-ownership modellen

These three steward-ownership models are used in the Netherlands

Steward-ownership is an innovative alternative to conventional forms of ownership. At the same time, it is a proven concept that has been applied for many years by both large and small companies, such as these 8 companies:

Een aantal grote en kleine Nederlandse, Duitse en Deense steward-owned bedrijven

These and other steward-owned companies do not all use the same legal form, but have chosen within their legal structure to secure the two universal steward-ownership principles:

Self-governance: Voting rights lie with people involved in the company. This control cannot be sold.

Profit serves the mission: Profits are reinvested in the company and/or donated in line with the company’s mission. Investors and founders are compensated fairly.

Three models

In particular, the Dutch steward-owned companies use the following three models to implement the two steward-ownership principles:

golden share

Golden share
In the golden share model, the company gives voting shares to stewards. These shares can never be traded. Investors can obtain economic shares and trade them if necessary. A foundation holds a golden share with veto rights to ensure that the structure is maintained. An example of a company using this model is Moonback.

geneutraliseerd kapitaal

Neutralized capital
In the neutralized capital model, economic ownership over the company is held by a foundation. The value of the company is thus completely “neutralized”. The voting rights lie with stewards and can never be traded. An example of a company using this model is surf school The Shore.

foundation owned

Shareholder foundation
In the shareholder foundation model, the entire company – or most of the voting power – is owned by a foundation with a sound governance structure, allowing the foundation to act as a responsible owner. An example of a company using this model is Triodos Bank.

The choice for a model is determined, among other things, by the type of company, its goals and ambitions, and the stage the company is in. For example, for a company in need of venture capital, it may be interesting to be able to issue shares, although it is also quite possible for a foundation to issue bonds or certificates of shares so that the company obtains equity to grow.

The decision to implement steward-ownership is irreversible (after all, that is the value), but that does not mean that companies are also locked into a chosen legal form. It is quite possible to evolve the legal form, or even change it.