About the project
The European FairShares Labs for Social and Blue Innovation (FairSharesLabs) project seeks to develop novel solutions to economic and environmental challenges, and to assist the reform of welfare systems and job markets. Traditional welfare and social services have not yet adjusted to the global rise of cooperative social entrepreneurship that has evolved as a response to the neo-liberalism of the 1990s and austerity policies of the last decade. Moreover, socio-structural changes brought about by the widespread use of the internet make it imperative to develop new forms of democratic social enterprise that promote wider participation and sustainable development.
What are FairShares Labs?
FairShares Labs are real and virtual laboratories in which primary stakeholders (Founder, Labour, User and Investor members) generate social and blue economy ideas together. They apply the FairShares Model to develop FairShares enterprises. FairShares Labs are physical and virtual co-working spaces that provide communication facilities, workshops, training and support to social enterprise start-ups and conversions. FairShares Labs can be situated wherever the four primary stakeholder groups can meet (using the FairShares Platform for e-learning and exchange). Primary stakeholders can place offers, find each other and use the FairShares tools by registering on the FairShares Platform. External and internal business experts can provide coaching in both real and virtual FairShares Labs using the FairShares Platform.
What are FairShares Values and Principles?

The FairShares Labs will be incubation hotspots based on the principles of equal cooperation between Founder, Labour, User and Investor members. Customer-oriented initiatives will be linked to sustainable development goals on the one hand and social inclusion on the other. Citizens can work together with experts to initiate and organise social innovations, and social/blue enterprises, that tackle problems in their working and living environments.


The five key principles are:


  • Wealth and power sharing amongst primary stakeholders
  • Specification of social purposes and auditing of social impacts
  • Ethical review of the choices of products/services offered
  • Ethical review of production and retailing processes
  • Social democratic ownership, governance and management.


Read more on the FairShares Association website.

What are Objectives of FairShares Labs?
The main objective of the project is to establish shared and local understandings of the FairShares Model. FairShares represents a unique way to do business, it advances the idea that success should be judged by the extent to which businesses satisfy human, social and environmental needs, and not by their annual profitability or contribution to GDP. FairShares values and principles guide lab participants to foster innovations, and adult educators offer coaching to improve skills and competences resulting in a more cooperative approach to business that distributes power, wealth and benefits more equitably.
What is the Social Economy?
The social economy is used not only as a general term for economic activity guided by a social purpose but also as a technical term for that part of the economy in which firms are controlled by employees, producers, consumers and volunteers (rather than private and professional investors). Its primary focus is on worker cooperatives, employee-owned firms, consumer and mutual societies, but can extend to the economic activity of non-profit organisations, NGOs, credit unions, voluntary and self-help groups working with trade unions to distribute wealth more fairly.
FairShares Labs Inclusion and Gender Mainstreaming
FairShares Labs will develop and implement innovations that promote social inclusion, self-determination and independent living amongst marginalised groups. Following the principles of FairShares Labs, these groups are regarded as experts in their own affairs. The learning activities will be designed to promote the equitable involvement and participation of marginalised groups during idea generation and social enterprise design. Our methodology and guidance will include material on meeting the challenges of social inclusion.
What are Living Labs?
The European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) describes Living Labs as “user-centred, open innovation ecosystems based on a systematic user co-creation approach integrating research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings”. The five main living lab principles such as multi-stakeholder, co-creation, active user involvement, real life settings and multi-method approach are also FairShares principles.
What is the FairShares Economy?

The FairShares economy is one in which all who contribute to the creation of wealth have a legal and moral right share in it and participate in decisions on how to invest it. Three types of investment create wealth: investment of financial and economic capital (committing money and resources); investment to build social capital (attracting customers and building supply chains); investment of human and intellectual capital by labour (developing skills and generating ideas). It further recognises the special role of entrepreneurial labour (often providing all three investment types) and grants Founder members a protected right to shape power and wealth-sharing arrangements during their lifetime.

The FairShares Model

AnyShare Society, the world’s first internet-based FairShares company calls itself the “complete cooperative”. The FairShares Model is a philosophy and methodology for redesigning companies, cooperatives, associations and partnership to fully recognise and reward entrepreneurs (founders), workforce members (labour), customers (users) and the creators/providers of financial capital (investors). We recognise that wealth comes from the quality of the interactions between the producers and users of various products and services, and not solely from the provision of financial capital. So founders, labour, users and investors can have shares which grant them three rights: Firstly, a fair share of any profits; secondly, a fair and formal vote on matters of policy or governance and; thirdly, democratic management processes such as social audits that engage all stakeholders. They can participate in the everyday decision-making of the enterprise.

What are the FairShares Tools?

FairShares Labs project will offer many tools and materials for training, learning, cooperation, creating and implementing FairShares enterprise:

● a methodology and handbook with background material and practical guidelines on how to develop and implement a FairShares Lab

● an interactive cooperating working tool which guides the four stakeholder groups and the individual FairShares Lab through the process of generating a social enterprise idea, developing a business plan and starting an enterprise

● a self- and blended-learning training tool for social enterprise developers generally and other people interested in starting and leading their own FairShares Lab.

● an interactive E-learning and exchange platform (website) housing dynamic online courses, providing the means and medium for communication and cooperation between the partners as well as learners and the community. The platform enables sharing of project related materials and information.

Stakeholder groups in a FairShares Enterprise

The FairShares Model conceptualises four primary stakeholders who interact to create the success of any enterprise. The four member (stakeholder) groups are:

Founders: the people/organisations who start the enterprise. Founder members qualify for membership by virtue of being a founder of the enterprise (i.e. are signatories to the documents that bring the organisation into existence). In a FairShares Company or Cooperative, Founder members are allocated Founder Shares.

Labour: people/organisations who make the goods/services offered by the enterprise. Labour members qualify for membership by virtue of a qualifying labour contribution. In a FairShares Company or Cooperative, Labour members are allocated Labour Shares and can qualify for Investor Shares when a surplus is generated.

Users: people/organisations who use or buy goods and services from the enterprise. User members qualify for membership by virtue of a qualifying user contribution. In a FairShares Company or Cooperative, User members are allocated User Shares and can qualify for Investor Shares when a surplus is generated.

Investors: people/organisations who create or contribute financial capital. Investor members qualify for membership by virtue of creating or contributing financial capital. In a FairShares Company or Cooperative, Investor members are allocated Investor Shares.

In practice, the labels that are given to each member group (stakeholder) can change to reflect context.

The logics of the FairShares Model