These Businesses Are Owned by Purposes, Not People

Firebrand Artisan Breads and other businesses owned by a "perpetual purpose trust" are defining success as beyond profits.

Chocolate chip cookies in progress

Chocolate chip cookies in progress (Photo by Kola Shobo/Majorminor, courtesy Firebrand Artisan Breads)

Firebrand Artisan Breads in Oakland is among a growing number of businesses that aren’t owned by a person — or by profit-hungry investors — but by an idea.  

In this episode of the podcast, Next City Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with the chair of the organization helping businesses make the switch to ownership by a “perpetual purpose trust.” Firebrand used the innovative legal framework to grow its business while ensuring it always prioritizes hiring workers who are formerly incarcerated or unhoused.

“I don't think that there's a lot of stories in the press and the media around people who are operating off a different set of principles than the extractive, I'm gonna make as much money as I possibly can storyline,” says Camille Canon, chair of Purpose, which is advising Firebrand and others as it creates numerous “lighthouse” examples that guide others toward a different definition of success. 

Also on this episode, Next City talks with Oscar Perry Abello, our senior economics correspondent who first reported this story, about the perpetual purpose trust and the other myriad options for alternative ownership models that empower workers.

Listen to this episode below, or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple and Spotify.

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