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Hummingbird Wholesale team

Employee Ownership

Securing business legacy for resilient jobs and communities

Why we invest in employee ownership

A Fund for Stronger Local Economies

Local businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. However, today they face twin crises: COVID-19 coupled with the existing silver tsunami of baby boomers’ retirements that impact nearly half of all job-creating small businesses.

One out of 20 businesses expects to permanently close their doors.

Selling to employees can keep these businesses and their jobs in communities by increasing the viable pool of buyers and tapping the energy of the next generation to address today’s business challenges.

Employee ownership builds more resilient local economies with stronger small businesses, higher-quality jobs and creates a path to business ownership for low-income workers and workers of color. But there is limited financing available to help businesses make this powerful transition.

Project Equity Employee Ownership Catalyst Fund

The fund:


Catalyzes employee ownership, including for smaller businesses that face significant barriers to accessing capital from most lenders


Expands the pipeline of businesses that can consider employee ownership


Provides working capital to these businesses to help build back from the COVID-19 crisis and begin the employee ownership transition

Why we partner with Project Equity

Project Equity has a strong track record of engaging small businesses to learn about employee ownership through a national network of partners. Project Equity provides pre-to-post transactional support to help selling owners make the employee ownership transition. This strategy cements selling owners’ legacies and gives them a fair sale price (often with significant tax benefits) for their life’s work.

The fund is designed to provide a revolving pool of capital for financing employee ownership for years to come. Capital from the fund will be deployed to small businesses to assist their transition to employee ownership and support business continuity.

For more information, reach out to [email protected].

More about Project Equity

Project Equity is a national leader in the movement to harness employee ownership to maintain thriving local business communities, honor selling owners’ legacies, and address income and wealth inequality. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Project Equity works with partners around the country to raise awareness about employee ownership as an exit strategy for business owners, and as an important approach for increasing employee engagement and wellbeing. Project Equity also provides hands-on consulting and support to companies that want to transition to employee ownership, as well as to the new employee-owners to ensure that they, and their businesses, thrive after the transition.

Meet portfolio company Bellegarde Bakery

Founded in 2012, New Orleans-based Bellegarde Bakery uses freshly milled flour and traditional methods to produce handmade pasta, pastries, and bread.

Bellegarde Bakery sought financing from local banks and a credit union to transition to employee ownership but found that traditional lenders were either too risk-averse or did not understand their proposed ownership structure.

This employee ownership investment strategy, launched in partnership with national nonprofit Project Equity, invested in Bellegarde Bakery to support the transition.

When employees become owners, they can help preserve good jobs and rebuild local economies.

Mollie Sciacca, Bellegarde Bakery

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Learn more about this employee ownership strategy

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