A citizen shareholder company that channels citizens’ money to build up regional sustainable enterprises, from agricultural production to processing, retailing and further services.
Key facts and figures
History and mission
– 600 Shareholders
– About 3 million Euros have been raised
– 19 enterprises in the network
– 10 hectares have been purchased and 250 hectares of farmland have been preserved in the network
– 87 indicators have been developed to monitor enterprise management
Regionalwert AG started in 2006 as a citizen shareholder corporation through which people can invest in small and medium enterprises of the organic agricultural and food sector in the region of Freiburg.
According to its founding statute, RWAG’s aims are to:
– Secure and develop ecologically and socially sustainable agriculture and food production on a regional level through acquiring land and farms or investing (e.g. venture capital, seed funding) in enterprises in the field of processing and retail.
– Build-up a network of enterprises along the value-added chain by fostering collaborations between different enterprises and developing a joint positive identity.
– Gain added value: beyond dividends, RWAG aims at increasing the socio-ecological value of the region (job creation, wage, gender equity, soil fertility, biodiversity, etc.).
– Measure and communicate the performance of the enterprises through economic, social and environmental indicators.
RWAG was born out of intensive discussions and reflections of founder Christian Hiss with key leaders in the field of agriculture and sustainability. Christian Hiss was a farmer himself and brought his farm into the RWAG, thereby raising the initial capital. The network then grew to cover enterprises from all sectors of the regional food economy.
The legal status of the Regionalwert AG is that of an Aktiengesellschaft, for-profit shareholder companywith the following specifications:
– It is not stock-listed.
– The shares bought by the shareholders are non-redeemable, which means that shares bought cannot be speculated with and can only be exchanged.
Results so far
– Raising and managing citizens capital;
– Finding land and match-making with young farmers, identifying promising enterprises and start-ups that fit in the network;
– Helping to improve synergies amongst network enterprises;
– Bringing our experience into the public discourse via presentations and events regionally, nationally and internationally.
There are now all kinds of enterprises in the RWAG network, including farms producing vegetables and grains, fruits, dairy products, cheese and meat, wine, liquors and juices. Furthermore, there are caterers for children, a fruit dryer, a box-scheme, 3 shops, a wholesaler, an accountancy enterprise, a start-up councillor and a research institute.
– An emerging regional food system:
An alternative to the dominant resource and transport intensive food system is emerging. Each new enterprise enables a higher diversity in food supplies in the region. They create synergies to facilitate transport, valorise products, reach out to consumers, and develop a recognised identity.
– Securing access to land for young farmers:
In the region of Freiburg, access to land has been enabled for 6 farmers so far. It also enables non-family succession.
– Enabling capital for start-ups and socio-ecologic investment:
Money has been provided for entrepreneurs who have otherwise had difficulties in securing funding from banks, because they are young farmers and/ or want to develop projects that are considered risky (e.g. direct sales).
– Valorisation of the socio-ecologic services of agriculture:
RWAG has developed a system of 87 indicators to measure the social, environmental and economic impacts of the enterprises. Every year, the results are presented to the general assembly of shareholders, and made public. This approach is the base for a new valorisation of socio-ecological services.
– Upscaling our approach:
The comprehensive approach of the RWAG has been awarded and is currently being spread across other regions of Germany. A new RWAG has been founded in the Munich region and another one in Hamburg.
– Involving citizens in the food system:
More than 600 citizens supported their regional food system by becoming shareholders. Many more are regularly, both directly and indirectly, supplied by RWAG produce.