Recently I pooled funds with two of my sisters and my sister-in-law to jointly invest in the stock of CERO (Cooperative Energy Recycling and Organics), a Dorchester, Mass., based worker-owned cooperative business that provides waste reduction, organics diversion and composting/recycling for commercial businesses.
CERO’s business model leverages a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection regulation that mandates that food-based businesses (restaurants, hospitals, etc.) that generate one ton or more of compostable trash per week must divert that organic waste from landfills and incineration.
By selling its shares via a Direct Public Offering CERO was asking for the larger community to believe in and support its mission. My sisters and I did not invest in CERO to make money, but because the company’s philosophy and good work positively impact our community and align with our values on environmental sustainability, worker empowerment, and community advocacy.
We felt this was a WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN opportunity!
WIN: CERO’s clients get a reasonably priced service that picks up and handles compostable food waste allowing them to comply with the rules.
WIN: The worker-owners have a stake in the company and are thus empowered and motivated to do everything possible to achieve success. Equally important, the workers are training within their communities for green jobs which will provide a higher quality of life for them and their families thereby enabling them to invest their earnings back into the community.
WIN: The community has significantly less organic waste going into landfills and incinerators, which benefits the environment in immeasurable ways.
WIN: The community and the planet are healthier, stronger and better for all living beings. That’s a pretty good bottom line!
As co-investors it was important that all of us understood what we were getting into and that our goals were consistent. To accomplish this, we drafted a simple agreement outlining the basics of our joint investment which among other items included the following:
- A statement defining the investment and clear language stating that the primary reason that we made it was to support the community and not to make money
- What would happen should any of us want to sell our portion
- How potential profits or losses would be distributed
- How taxes would be handled and allocated
CERO’s marketing material states that “going green is good for business, good for the community and good for the planet.” By investing in CERO we put our money where our mouth is and supported a wonderful organization that we believe in.
For us, CERO is much more than about the money, but is an investment in our community and the future, and reflects our commitment to both.
To get more information about CERO visit their website www.CERO.coop