The Sustainable Communities Framework (SCF) represents a compelling vision for uniting people in communities across the country and the world to launch a transformative local development model that uses a complimentary currency called the UNO. (Participating communities are free to localize the name of the currency.) Harnessing the power of participants, the UNO will enable the creation of a regenerative, people-centered economy.
Through community councils, the SCF provides residents and organizations with a means to articulate community challenges, shape solutions and set priorities to help ensure the optimal deployment of the program.
Each area that local residents consider their community will be invited to establish a council. Members will be recruited from a representative cross section of the community, such as small businesses, non-profits, local government, community organizations and other stakeholders.
This initiative aims to provide a support ecosystem for startup companies and a workforce development program that helps prepare prospective employees for both startup and existing companies.
Startups matter because companies less than 5 years old generate the most net new jobs yet experience a high failure rate and thus are the most difficult to get funded. The SCF allows many more startups to be launched than via conventional methods because of its ability to issue complementary currency grants (not investments) to prospective entrepreneurs with a viable business idea, along with other foundational support mechanisms like mentoring, pitch competitions and incubation. Once startups reach proof-of-concept, conventional financing and investment become easier to acquire.
However, many aspiring entrepreneurs are in reality better suited to being part of a team in an established company. Current education and training does not adequately prepare students or transitioning workers for the gig economy or evolving employer demands. The Sustainable Entrepreneurship Initiative addresses these issues.
The SBI is designed to nurture local small businesses (SMEs) and spur economic activity.
By purchasing and selling goods and services partly using UNOs, SMEs become eligible for various UNO benefits.
For startups, NCG will provide seed funding grants to help them establish the viability of their business plans at the important proof of concept stage as well as business incubation and support services.
Participating established businesses will be eligible for:
- Low-interest lines of credit denominated in UNOs.
- Commissions for selling UNOs and recruiting customers to open an UNO bank account.
- Grants to bring employee compensation up to a living wage equivalent of $15/hour.
- Grants to pay for fringe benefits as a tool for recruiting and retaining employees.
- Grants needed to hire new employees, including paid interns, with potential IRS tax credits.
- Credit and debit card processing, with processing fees paid through the SCF in the form of bonuses in UNOs.
Not-for-profit organizations (NFPs, including 501(c)(3) non-profits, local government and non-government social services agencies) nearly universally suffer from inadequate financial resources. Because they fulfill critical roles not covered by the federal government or the business community, they are one of the principal beneficiaries targeted by this initiative.
This initiative provides the region’s non-profits with additional financial resources, both USD and UNOs. Some will originate from NCG’s general fund, some will be from grants in UNOs. Non-profits can also directly earn funds — for example, they can:
- Directly earn dollars as commissions for the sale of UNOs.
- Recruit SMEs to accept UNOs and receive a commission override on the sales of UNOs made by those SMEs and/or the users those SMEs recruit.
- Recruit their own supporters to set up an UNO checking account and receive commissions each time those users purchase UNOs.
EMPOWERED & CONSCIOUS CONSUMERS
Buy Local: Spending in local businesses with UNOs keeps your money circulating longer in your community than spending with dollars.
Share & Donate: Easily share your UNOs with other individuals, or donate them to your local non-profit to improve your community..
Support Local Businesses: Spending with UNOs strengthens your local businesses, keeping their unique goods and services available in your community and providing jobs.
Be a Conscious Consumer: By spending UNOs you generate donations that support local non-profits, demonstrating solidarity and empowering your community to meet its own needs.
The Sustainable Investment Initiative provides investment funds for local businesses at varying points in their lifecycle. These funds are usually employed at three phases:
- Seed Funding/Acceleration: When early stage companies seek venture capital investments, i.e., following SEI program proof-of-concept stage.
- Growth Capital: Where a company’s market opportunity exceeds its ability to self-fund immediate expansion.
- Equity Event or “Exit”: When a successful venture is offered for outside investment, restructured via a merger or acquisition, or is taken public via an Initial Public Offering.
To cover these three phases, NCG will create and manage one or more funds under the SCF program, each established under a separate vehicle called a Small Business Holding Company (SBHC). This article describes how SBHCs work and this one addresses the unique problems of retiring SME owners, a unique “exit” requirement. SBHCs formed in Puerto Rico may also take advantage of Opportunity Zone tax savings legislation.