Self-Financing Tool: Direct Public Offerings
What do the following have in common? Real Pickles, a new worker cooperative in Massachusetts; Arroyo Food Co-op, a startup in Pasadena, Cal.; and People’s Community Market in Oakland; also Ben & Jerry’s and Annie’s Homegrown? Each of these is using a direct public offering, a valuable tool for self-financing of new or expanded business enterprise. (Established food co-ops that have conducted member loan campaigns will already understand it.)
Direct public offerings are usually limited to being offered within one state (intrastate) and in total capitalization. They are completely legal yet avoid the huge expense and regulatory burdens of stockholder-based initial public offerings (IPOs). See the following (NYT) report on how direct public offerings are enabling companies to turn their friends and customers into owners: do it yourself capital.
A related column on policies that foster local businesses recently offered examples including worker cooperatives as a model supporting both entrepreneurs and jobs: care and feeding of small business.
And in the U.K. the "community shares" movement offers parallel self-help financing for cooperatives and community-based enterprise: http://www.communityshares.org.uk.