Anybody can request to become a member, and everybody is welcome as long as their business fits the description for a social business has specified in the Entrepreneur Commons Manifesto.
Except for Investor-members, member requests are reviewed and approved by existing members through a majority vote (with a quorum of 2 investor-members, entrepreneur-members or borrower-members voting)
There are several categories and types of membership:
Membership Approval Process
Investor-members are automatically approved when they commit their money to the fund. They remain members for the duration of the line they are invested in (one line of loans per year expected, depending on fundraising results)
All other members need to go through a very simple approval process: when you submit a request to become a member of the Entrepreneur Commons, you will be invited to meet with the members of a local self help group, to introduce yourself and explain your project or your interest in joining the Entrepreneur Commons: what you are expecting from it, what you can bring to the group.
Membership are granted as a result of a majority vote. There needs to be a minimum of 2 members from the Investor or Entrepreneur category voting, no maximum.
Investor-members have no special requirements once an initial investment was made and for the duration of the line they are invested in. You are welcome however to join a self help group and contribute your expertise as mentors to the entrepreneurs involved in the Entrepreneur Commons.
For all other members, the expectation is that you will attend on a regular basis the meeting from the self help team you belong to (5 to 7 entrepreneurs, up to twice as many people with facilitator-members and sponsor-members).
Once you become an entrepreneur-member you can request a loan. Loans can be made for up to the amount of the line raised divided by 30. So if the first line of loans is a $3M line, the Entrepreneur Commons will be able to make 30 loans of up to $100K.
In order to get a loan, you will have to be approved by a majority vote as well:
- majority vote from the Investor members category, with a quorum of 2 investor-members
- majority vote from the Entrepreneur category, with at least a vote from a majority of the members involved in your self help group.
In case there is disagreement between investors and entrepreneurs (one majority vote in favor while the other category is voting against), the final decision will be made a the Entrepreneur Commons steering committee (5 people to be elected on a yearly basis and playing the benevolent dictator role).
The Ecosystem is defined by non-core members: facilitator-members and sponsor-members.
Facilitator members are independent consultants that volunteer to help within a self help group, They would typically come when requested by the self help group entrepreneur-members when they want to discuss a specific area of interest. They can also be staff members of the Entrepreneur Commons attending meeting to make sure the group is working ok.
Sponsor members are somewhat similar in the role that they play. They may attend meetings if they wish but are otherwise called to contribute when needed. The idea here is that there is a value for a corporation to stay involved with innovation, which is happening in startups. So they may be interested in having people involved with the Entrepreneur Commons. From the entrepreneur prospective, they can be a contact point if there is a need to talk to people at the executive level within the corporation, as a way to accelerate a partnership or sales process.
We will limit the number of such members to make sure we have a healthy mix, with a majority of entrepreneur-members or investor-members.
Attendance to peer-support meetings are free, the cost of becoming a member is the cost of committing to attend the meeting. Your time is a precious resource, so this is a real cost. And you will get value from the process only if you participate on a regular basis, building the trust with the other members of the group.
Membership into the Entrepreneur Commons Academy is free for members of the chapters. There is a small fee for people who do not participate in the chapter meetings, as a way to confirm that there is a real commitment to participate into the Academy.
Moving forward, we may introduce membership fees if needed to pay for staff and infrastructure, and so that the Entrepreneur Commons is sustainable over the long term. The overall goal however is to keep these to a minimum so as to make it affordable to any entrepreneur anywhere in the world. If we introduce fees, they will apply to all members, including investor members.