Community Coordination & Leadership Development

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A Community Supporting an Entrepreneurial Leader

Facing an abundance of undeveloped capital and a scarcity of entrepreneurial leadership, how can we remove barriers for those willing to lead and work with capital? Can a community learn to gather its talents and best practices to build shared resources, services, and assets that support its entrepreneurial leaders?

It is ironic that the problems that most frustrate entrepreneurs tend to be very basic. Ask what keeps us up at night. You’ll hear of administrative mayhem, complex coordination problems, ceaseless communications, mind-numbing compliance, and the risks of not having these functions in order. In the 21st-century digital economy, there are too many learning curves. Even where quality education is available and affordable, overworked entrepreneurs have active ventures to operate and can hardly afford the time for yet another seminar.

Another irony is that core business functions are all solved problems. Double-entry bookkeeping, for example, is a 500-year-old technology for financial reporting, yet we still can’t make it easy for people. Business planning workshops and pitch competitions might help, but they address problems in abstraction, not operationally. The result is that too often, entrepreneurs in our community are stopped, slowed down, or exposed to unnecessary risks.

What if we could soften these curves? Rather than just leaving each other to our own devices, what if a community of stakeholders could develop and share a suite of core operating functions? What if we could build shared services and assets based on first principles and best practices? Could entrepreneurs learn what they need to know by using such tools in practice? Could a community learn to build paths of capital apprenticeship that actually equip citizens to become entrepreneurial leaders and work effectively with capital?

A Regional Network of Assets & Operating Functions

For nearly a decade, Sparrow has been at work building a network of amenities and operating functions in Edmonton to empower and equip entrepreneurial leaders in our community. These initiatives are in various stages of development and include Sparrow Cowork, Ordo Administrative Services, Sparrow Community Services, and the Open Equity Partnership Framework.

Our portfolio offers sufficient scale and complexity to incubate prototypes and conduct relevant experiments in stakeholder ownership and community-coordinated economic development.

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Sparrow Cowork

Sparrow Cowork is a platform for collaborative entrepreneurial leadership and community development. Our cowork spaces provide entrepreneurs with an easy point of access to engage with Sparrow’s entrepreneurial community and programs. They also provide affordable and flexible access to the office and production amenities that entrepreneurial leaders need.

Sparrow Cowork currently operates approximately 15,000 ft2 of shared office and production spaces over three locations in Edmonton.

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Ordo Administrative Services

Sparrow is deploying an integrated administrative services engine to deliver core financial, software, and data management functions for entrepreneurial leaders.

Ordo Administrative Services currently operates as an internal division of Sparrow Capital, providing administrative and accounting services for more than 20 companies and partnerships in our portfolio.

Ordo is using this opportunity to develop its data architecture and to build a full suite of tools and protocols based on first principles and best practices. These solutions are currently being integrated by our software & systems development team into a full-scale Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system on the Odoo Open Source ERP Framework.

All of Ordo’s services and systems are being designed from the ground up to be adaptable to the needs of all kinds of entrepreneurial leaders; from cowork members, startups, and community organizations, to growing businesses in complex industries.

SPCS Sparrow Community Services Logo

Sparrow Community Services

Sparrow’s community gatherings are celebrations of our people, our shared endeavours, and our achievements; they cultivate unexpected encounters, nourish relationships, and weave the cultural fabric of our community together.

Sparrow Community Services was incorporated in 2019 as a not-for-profit corporation to coordinate our community events and programming. The nascent platform has primarily served as a vehicle to host a number of ad hoc community events.

In due course, Sparrow intends to deploy a full roster of community gatherings, expeditions, and various programs in outreach, storytelling, and stakeholder engagement. We are building an event venue on the 4th floor of Brighton Block and an event-management team that will provide dedicated capacity to organize and promote community events and programs.

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The Open Equity Partnership Framework

In conjunction with our regional network of assets and operating businesses, Sparrow has also invested in the development of an innovative partnership framework called Open Equity.

Open Equity is a framework for equitable ownership and stakeholder engagement. It draws on the employee-ownership precedents of the ESOP movement, but allows for a broader range of stakeholder groups in addition to employees to be defined on the basis of the capacities and resources they contribute toward the value of an asset.

The Sparrow community is working to deploy the Open Equity Foundation as a charitable organization that can teach communities how to build and cultivate ecosystems of equitable stakeholder ownership.

A Hypothesis:
Community-Coordinated Economic Development

What happens when we recognize the value and scarcity of entrepreneurial leaders? When we consider the infinite opportunity in the undeveloped capital that is sitting there, just waiting for our community to organize the leadership needed to realize its potential?

What if a community can learn to gather its learning, talents, and best practices to build shared resources, services, and assets to support its entrepreneurial leaders? And how can incentives be best aligned to enable a community of stakeholders to participate equitably in the consequences and rewards of bringing undeveloped capital to life?

These questions inform the working hypothesis behind Sparrow’s approach to community-coordinated economic development.

Entrepreneurial Leaders Are the Scarce Resource
As owners and stewards of capital, we can start by simply acknowledging that the value of our capital is defined by the capacities of our entrepreneurial leaders. This is true of undeveloped capital as well as capital investment.

Communities Can Equip Leaders With Shared Tools and Resources
As a community of stakeholders, we can learn to gather our talents and best practices, coordinate shared tools and resources, and build paths of capital apprenticeship to help equip our entrepreneurial leaders to work with capital.

Stakeholder Ownership Coordinates Capital Work
As partners and investors in capital projects, we can develop ownership frameworks that align incentives and enable stakeholders to participate equitably in the consequences and rewards of bringing undeveloped capital to life.

Open Equity Is the Evolution of Stakeholder Ownership
Open Equity is an innovative framework for equitable ownership and stakeholder engagement. It adapts nimbly to a broad range of assets and initiatives, diverse contingency scenarios, and various configurations of stakeholder groups.

Part three of this series, Stakeholder Ownership Coordinates Capital Work, will explore more about stakeholder coordination, equitable ownership, and the Open Equity Partnership Framework.

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