a) Cooperatives? A coop is an organisation, whereas the Commons is an organisation of organisations. This means that the coop can’t spread its idea apart from growing – it can’t multiply. It also means that it isn’t rooted in a context that it supports and is capable of supporting it. Whilst coops are participative and community orientated they do not specificially favour meritocratic leadership on behalf of the common good and they may not recirculate profit into the community.
b) B Corps?Whilst they are legally bound to contribute some surplus to socially positive causes they still have shareholders and if they become really successful in the free market like traditional ventures they are subject to aggressive takeovers like any other company whereas a Commons Society cannot be bought as it is protected by the Commons. B Corps do not alter the ownership and cannot prevent new owners from changing their constitutions back to what they were.
c) A CIC? CIC’s are legally bound to contribute some surplus to socially positive causes, and cannot be sold, but a CIC has no systemic mechanisms for multiplication, for capturing new companies into the Commons or for distributing more than its own surplus into the community. In effect the Commons Society converts any normal limited company into a CIC, at less cost and with less administrative overhead.
d) Any other Social Enterprise? Individual social enterprises even when successful remain isolated oases in the dysfunctional landscape of the free market . The Commons Society provides a protected sub-zone in the economy where things are done better and it is easier to be truly human and planet centred.
e) What is its USP then? It is a systemic solution to the negative aspects of the market mechanism. It has the potential to alter the existing economic landscape by creating a sheltered zone within the market and through its mechanisms for distribution or expansion to be a model of a wellbeing economy rather than a model of an ethical enteprise. It integrates purpose within the market mechanism.