Enspiral might be regarded as a mere network of like-minded entrepreneurs, it has grander social ambitious to spur transformational social change through innovative open-source software platforms, new organizational forms, and participatory social practices. Enspiral is especially known for developing Loomio html , an open-source tool for group deliberation and decisionmaking, and CoBudget html , a platform for participatory budgeting.
Enspiral's tagline as a community of businesses and social activists is: "More people working on stuff that matters," followed by the words "collaboration, autonomy, transparency, diversity, entrepreneurialism, non-hierarchy."
# Legal Status and Location Enspiral is legally a limited liability company (Ltd) based in Wellington, New Zealand, but it has a transnational network of contributors. Enspiral Foundation acts as an umbrella organization that guides the work of Enspiral Ventures and Enspiral Services.
# Aspirational goals
Enspiral has identified four "intended impacts" -- "systemic solutiions to critical social and environmental problems"; increased resources devoted to building social and environmental value; work rehumanised; and a network-native model for business."
# Origins and development
Enspiral was initiated by Joshua Vial, a freelance computer programmer, as a collective of individuals doing contract work together. html What began in 2010 as "a vision to make the world a better place through meaningful work" soon became a large network of diverse professionals drawn together by shared values and commitments to social change.
Its early participants showed a deep commitment to an ethic of experimentalism and social change. By 2015, it had 300 contributors and, a year later, more than 15 "social purpose companies" (Enspiral, 2016a).
The shared vision in the founding of Enspiral was for everybody involved -- mostly part-time, freelance professionals in various fields -- to provide social and work support to each other while contributing a part of his/her income to the group. The aggregated resources would allow the group to devote time to socially oriented projects.
This vision led to the founding of Enspiral Services, a freelancer and contractor collective that became the first and largest Enspiral company. It collects a percentage of a freelancer's payments from external clients, usually 20%, but variable based on a worker's choice), which is then put into a collective pool. The rest is put into an individual's account that is entirely under his or her control. An internal virtual banking system operating as a limited liability company allows people to do business with each other and contribute to collective projects proposed by Enspiral members.
Although it would be easy to see Enspiral as a system for sharing finances and administration, it is functionally a social system that cultivates social solidarity, cooperation and trust among its participants. Social ties and collaborations are strengthened through daily contact in a shared co-working space in Wellington, New Zealand; periodic retreats; and online tools like Loomio and CoBudget. (Many Enspiral contributors live and work around the world.)
There is thus a clear commitment to Cultivate Shared Purpose & Values within the Enpsiral network. Because the community uses so many participatory tools to make transparent decisions, it has a serious commitment to basic fairness within the group, interpersonal respect, and effective social innovation. Members in their everyday actions see that their activities are embedded within the larger network (Strengthen the Nested-I). Through its organizational systens, the network seeks to Honor Care, and Decouple Giving & Taking.
As participation in Enspiral grew, its members formed independent, collaborative teams which operate with significant agility and low transaction costs. It developed legal and administrative structures -- the Enspiral Foundation, Enspiral Ventures, Enspiral Services, and the software Loomio and CoBudget -- to enable a blend of group collaboration and individual autonomy. Individual professionals have substantial independence in how they "create and present their own brand to clients" (Bauwens/Niaros 2017:20)
The Enspiral Foundation operates as the "root node" of the network (Vial 2012), providing support and helping to advance the shared social mission and vision. The Foundation also serves as the legal entity of the network as a whole. The limited liability business has a charitable constitution mandating its nonprofit purpose and the reinvestment of all income for its social mission. All Enspiral ventures maintain a voluntary relationship with the Foundation, but operate as independent companies. They benefit from the connections, skills and expertise provided by the network in order to develop new products and services for social problems. focusing on social challenges.
In addition, participants contribute their time and skills as shared resources to the network, along with monetary contributions to the Foundation, usually in the form of flexible revenue shares (Enspiral 2015b). The contributions constitute the Foundation’s budget, which is collectively managed through CoBudget, a collaborative funding and budgeting tool that allows members to direct specific projects that their contributions will support.
People participate in Enspiral in a variety of ways -- as foundation members who collectively own the Enspiral Foundation and as individual professionals, business ventures, and socially oriented projects. Members can invite new ventures, contributors and members to join the network.
Non-members may choose to become contributors involved in Enspiral decisionmaking and collaboration. There is also a wider ecosystem of supporters known as friends and partners.
Enspiral has minimal engagement with the state except for its legal obligations as a limited liability company. Its internal virtual banking system has modest engagement with the state, too, because it connects with the conventional banking system and so must comply with some reporting and disclosure requirements.
# Provisioning through Commons Enspiral teams provide a wide range of services, including custom development of websites and applications, project management and creative services, all specialized for projects that aim to create social value. The initial company, later named Enspiral Services Ltd, is currently the largest company (in terms of turnover) in the network. It also served, for a long time, as a minimum viable structure for a tentative organization and business model through which self-organized individuals and companies could distribute money, knowledge and control in a collaborative environment.
Within a few years, the Enspiral Foundation was established and new companies started to be launched along with Enspiral Services. These companies gradually evolved into a collective of social enterprises, Enspiral Ventures.
Like any businesses operating in the marketplace, Enspiral members clearly wish to success, but they seem to Practice Gentle Reciprocity in their dealings; maximum profitability and market share seem to take a backseat to longer-term social impact.
As a participatory network, members also seem to place a high premium on the special knowledge and creative talents that everyone brings to the table, suggesting they Trust Situated Knowing. Their aggressive experimentalism, iterative innovation and candid self-criticism suggests an eagerness to Be Creatively Adaptive.
As a tech-oriented community, there is less emphasis on finding ways to Deepen Interdependency on Nature, but there is little question that members are sympathetic to this goal.
# Ontological Layer
Enspiral Website html
Michel Bauwens and Vasili Niaros (2017) Value in a Commons Economy pdf ]
Enspiral entry, Peer to Peer Foundation wiki wiki ]
Podcast interview with Richard Bartlett of Loomio, with Douglas Ruskkoff, June 26, 2017. podcast