European ESOP – Pilot Programme in Slovenia

2,000 Euro Prize 2022

Country: Slovenia

Region: Implemented nationwide

Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy

Fields of action: Work, Community development, Other

Project owner: Inštitut za ekonomsko demokracijo - Institute for Economic Democracy

Responsible person: Tej Gonza

Website: Weblink

Challenge

Small businesses and local companies in Slovenia face an uncertain future with rising wealth inequality. These businesses also lack potential successors, but most people in Slovenia do not have the financial resources to purchase property or own a business. As a result, small businesses and local companies risk bankruptcy or buyouts by business and real estate monopolies.

Idea

The European ESOP – Slovenia Pilot Programme democratises property and business ownership by enabling employees to become owners of the companies they work for. The programme secures employees’ jobs and reduces wealth inequality, while workers contribute and have a say in important decision-making about their company as business owners.

Actors

We work with business owners and employees interested in adopting the model, as well as political parties and unions. The programme provides legal assistance with ownership transfers to employees. We also conduct training sessions to give employees the technical, organisational, and cultural skills to navigate the company’s ownership and governance structures. 

Impact

Our programme empowers workers by granting them capital income in addition to their wages. This system helps build social and economic equity while decreasing the risk of inflation and financial insecurity. We also build trust within firms and improve company performance. Most importantly, our programme strengthens Slovenia’s economy and helps retiring business owners preserve their company’s legacies. 

Transfer

One of the core strengths of the programme is its near-universal adoptability. The legal entity of the CoopESOP – the core of the model – is a cooperative, which is implementable in all countries with legislation for cooperatives. This model is especially significant for countries with transitional economies, where privatisation expropriated social wealth and led to political disempowerment. 

Appreciation of the Jury

Most people lack sufficient funds to acquire property or become business owners. At the same time, companies are confronted with the problem of succession and run the risk of bankruptcy or buy-outs due to real estate speculations. By enabling employees to become owners of the companies they work for and take part in decision-making processes, the project tackles more issues at once. It not only secures employees’ jobs but also reduces wealth inequality. European ESOP – Pilot Programme in Slovenia establishes new forms of employee-led ownership and democratises property and business ownership.