F) Develop resilient, and self-sufficient business models

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The ambition

Many community-led initiatives for sustainable and just cities rely on public funding (subsidies, grants etc) to carry out their activities. But changing political priorities and economic crises (especially important in corona times) restrict this funding. Developing a business model that frees initiatives from single sources of funding, and contains a well thought-out value proposition, delivery, and capture, as well as considering the model’s risks, will make them more resilient in the face of austerity. However, this is no easy task, since many of the projects serve low-income residents and cannot rely on them to finance it. Additionally, since funding sources and business models (often) also reflect the values of the organization using them, community-led organizations and projects may have to think carefully about accepting funding from bigger institutions, as it potentially may conflict with their own political views and environmental and social goals.

For interesting examples of business models for Nature Based Solutions, see the NATURVATION project’s Business Model Catalogue [1].

Check out examples

Brixton Energy, London

After the steep decline and cancellation of the FIT subsidy for community energy, Repowering sought out alternatives such as private investment and conducted pilot projects for a peer-to-peer energy trading system.

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Foodsharing, Berlin

Foodsharing is run by unpaid volunteers, including developers, foodshares and foodsavers and refuses any public funding or subsidies. Relying on their own ressources is part of the political line of the organization as it tries to operate without financial transaction. Foodsharing members promote the “free”.

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Bürger Energie Berlin, Berlin

BEB is highly dependent on membership fees paid by its shareholders due to the legal restrictions to harness project funding for being a cooperative. BEB runs awareness campaigns to attract financial donations and membership shares through the media.

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Relation to previous work in UrbanA

This enabling governance arrangement addresses the following drivers of injustice:

  • Unquestioned Neoliberal growth and austerity urbanism. It refers to processes of privatization, commercialization, budget cuts and state withdrawal from various sectors and how they can undermine urban sustainability, guided by an ideology of unfettered economic growth which often aligns with austerity policies.