Over the past decade, employee ownership has been gaining traction as a tool for building wealth and assets for workers with low wages and communities of color. The country is facing a “Silver Tsunami” of small business closures as a result of the wave of baby boomer retirees, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-induced economic crisis. Conversions to employee ownership–in which business owners sell their business to the workers–preserve jobs, stabilize communities and ultimately create more resilient businesses. During this unprecedented economic and social climate, not only are employee-owned businesses surviving, they are demonstrating resiliency and modeling what the next phase of the U.S. economy could look like.
In this session, we will hear from two organizations that are pairing technical assistance and capital to enable employees to purchase their businesses: Apis & Heritage, a Black-led private equity buy-out fund that transitions closely-held businesses with Black and brown workforces to worker ownership; and Project Equity, a national leader in the movement to harness employee ownership to maintain thriving local business communities, create quality jobs, and address income and wealth inequality. The session will be moderated by Capital Impact Partners, one of the largest national Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), that recently financed the conversion of a 130-year-old business in New York, preserving the jobs of more than 50 workers.