Michael Sauvante, Executive Director & Chief Architect
Michael Sauvante brings over 40 years of experience in founding and running more than a half dozen companies and non-profit organizations. He is an expert in new venture creation, also within mature companies including pioneering work at HP Labs, and has long been a progressive thinker in the field of sustainability, corporate social and environmental behavior, and corporate responsibility. Michael also has a deep understanding of general corporate law, corporate securities law, banking and tax law and more.
Sauvante’s philosophy for building sustainable businesses is outlined in The Triple Bottom Line: A Boardroom Guide , published in 2001 in the “Director’s Monthly” of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). His efforts to change California’s laws (in 2004) to make corporations more socially and environmentally responsible (six years before the first state approved benefit corporations – see below) is highlighted in the book, Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism, by Patricia Aburdeen. He expanded on that topic in an article Rewiring Corporate DNA, published in 2008 by the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. That paper pointed out that if society wants to change corporations to make them more socially and environmentally responsible, then jurisdictions (like states) would have to change their corporate statutes to redefine the “purpose” of a corporation and its legal obligations to include those objectives. It called for establishment of a new kind of for-profit corporation that would exist alongside conventional for-profit corporations, but would require this new category of company to pursue some public benefit along social and/or environmental dimensions. New corporations could be organized under either structure.
Two years later, Maryland became the first state in the country to create what is now commonly called a benefit corporation, a structure that very closely resembles what Michael recommended in his white paper. To date, 33 states and the District of Columbia have adopted similar statues (including Delaware!). This represents one of the most sweeping changes in corporate law in the nation’s history, one whose long-term ramifications are just beginning to be felt. No benefit corporation has gone public as of April 2016, but under Michael’s leadership, Commonwealth Group has formed its own BDC as a California benefit corporation and plans to take it public as soon as possible. It will likely be the first public benefit corporation BDC in the country, and perhaps the first public benefit corporation of any kind.
Along with Vari MacNeil, Michael founded The National Commonwealth Group in 2008. The National Commonwealth Group is a think tank dedicated to the study and promotion of socially responsible business and financial institutions. It focuses on local economic development and support for Main Street businesses, particularly around capital formation and credit. Their efforts led to extensive involvement in the banking and corporate securities spaces, where Michael and Vari developed a number of game changing strategies to unleash funding for Main Street business, including a new model of community banking owned by the public rather than private shareholders, and a new way to regulate capital formation for small businesses. In The Inevitable Future of Capitalism (2008) Michael captured the trends he saw occurring within capitalism and the interplays among capitalism, society and the planet. He explores what forces will bring about fundamental shifts in today’s capitalism, unfolding as the concepts of sustainability, socially responsible/impact investing and ESG issues gain traction worldwide.
Many of Michael’s other ideas were published in a number of articles, books and other writings including, A New Stock Exchange Where People and the Planet Matter (2010) which explores the question, “What if there were a stock exchange where society and the environment were the top priority and profit a means to maintain continuity and not an end in itself?” Corporations listed on such an exchange would be valued based on how well they served society instead of solely by short-term profit. (Such a U.S. exchange is now on Commonwealth Group’s drawing board and another has been already formed in the U.K. called the The Social Stock Exchange showing that it is an idea whose time has come.)
His article A Primer on “Going Public: How companies too small for the national stock exchanges can access public capital (2010) laid out the concepts that later would be known as crowdfunding. The article incorporated a number of the ideas for a more complete version of crowdfunding than is being contemplated. Michael later promoted the concept for regional stock exchanges, which resemble crowdfunding portals. His regional stock exchange idea was subsequently explored in the book Local Dollars Local Sense by Michael Shuman.
More recently Michael’s research into local economic development issues has resulted in his publishing a number of articles found here. This effort led to an in-depth exploration of the use of alternative currencies for economic development, resulting in his article Money – A Time for Change, exploring how such currencies can be used to bootstrap local economies, especially stressed economies. He further developed a system for harnessing those ideas using Commonwealth Development Organizations, described in-depth here. He and his colleagues at National Commonwealth Group are launching a pilot project based on that strategy on the island of Puerto Rico, introduced in this document and here.
This effort attracted the attention of leadership with the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR), at Middlesex University in London. Middlesex hosts a top tier business school, of which CEEDR is the leading research centre specializing in local economic development, small business financing and support policy, and social enterprise. CEEDR has awarded Michael an Honorary Research Fellowship in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of local economic development and business financing with National Commonwealth Group. Michael will shortly begin a professional doctorate program (DProf) at Middlesex based on his 10 years of research and work in this field.
In 2002, Michael was recognized by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as one of 35 “Technology Pioneers” worldwide. For a full bio and comprehensive list of his writings, visit nationalcommonwealthgroup.net/michael-sauvante.
Scott McIntyre, Managing Director
Founder and Chief Architect of Commonwealth’s Campus Ventures subsidiary, Scott is a lifelong entrepreneur and venture catalyst. He founded strategy/media/capital firm Phabriq Development in 1997 and recently launched COventures, a platform providing key technology and intuitive roadmaps for aspiring entrepreneurs and communities driving sustainable innovation.
As a volunteer, Scott is a founding executive currently serving his 3rd term on the Board of Directors as President/Chair of the Crowdfunding Professional Association, the leading 501(c)6 trade group formed by the change agents responsible for Crowdfunding’s inclusion in the JOBS Act of 2012. Scott is an active speaker in the U.S. and abroad, addressing audiences numbering over 13,000 in China, and delivering keynote presentations at national conferences in Australia, India and Austria. He maintains an active network of leading foreign alternative finance bodies with associates in over 20 countries.
Scott has been a recognized pioneer in Education Technology since his role as a founding executive of REAL Education in 1994, the startup that built the first online education platform, launching worldwide as eCollege at IPO in 1999. eCollege is now a cornerstone product of Education market leader Pearson, having acquired eCollege for $477 million in 2007. Scott recently concluded his directorship at The University of Toledo, where he envisioned, implemented and managed the school’s first Office of Student Entrepreneurship & Engagement. Scott recently completed an interim appointment as CEO of Weeshing Inc, a Chilean investment bank using its Crowdfinance platform to bring live event investment opportunities to fans and investors of all sizes across the western hemisphere.
Vari MacNeil, Director, Communications & Creative
Vari MacNeil’s professional experience spans more than 30 years in online and offline content strategy and development, brand strategy, and communications. She consults on content issues for large international companies, primarily in the automotive, healthcare and pharmaceutical, financial services, construction and home improvement, entertainment, government and economic development sectors.
Vari was previously with Azina Communications, a publishing and Internet consulting firm she co-founded in 2003. Before that she was Executive Director of Member Media for USAA, an international financial services company, where she was responsible for mass communications to 1.4 million member-customers. As Director of Content at marchFIRST/divine, an international Internet consultancy, Vari developed content and brand strategy for multinational companies. She was previously executive editor of The Health Network channel and executive editor of WebMD. Vari started her career as a newspaper and magazine editor.
Vari brings an international background, having grown up in Scotland and worked for many years in Germany, mostly in Munich, Stuttgart and the Bavarian Alps. As a co-founder of Commonwealth Group, Vari has helped develop programs around small business capital and credit issues, and the sustainable development of local economies. She is the recipient of multiple awards for print and online content.
Patricia Carlson, Director, Administration
Patricia Carlson has a successful track record in the administration of startup and growth companies. She brings over 30 years experience in founding and running more than a half dozen enterprises. She has managed all administrative functions, including accounting, taxes, personnel, inventory and facilities, as well as all the administrative functions of the boards of directors. She is an ABA certified paralegal and has completed the first year of law school for a JD.