Yvon Chouinard, who said he finds being called a businessman offensive, was riled at being named on Forbes’ list of world’s richest people. Photo Credit: Photo-Campbell Brewer

Heroes USA28. September 2022

Founder of Multi-Billion-Dollar Clothing Company Transfers Ownership to… Mother Nature!

The eccentric owner of the American outdoor apparel maker Patagonia has decided to hand his company to a trust and a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating climate change and protecting undeveloped lands.

“Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” states Yvon Chouinard, 83, founder of Patagonia. “We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.”

Fifty years after its foundation, Patagonia – valued at $3 billion and generating some $100 million a year – will no longer belong to its owner but will remain independent. The company will still operate as a private, for-profit corporation whose profits will fund climate change actions. The transfer of ownership is done in two parts: the establishment of the Patagonia Purpose Trust which received the company’s voting stock, or 2% of the overall shares, to make sure Patagonia is a socially responsible business that gives away its profits. The Holdfast Collective, a newly established nonprofit organization, is managing the remaining 98% of Patagonia, distributing profits to nature-based climate solutions like preserving wild lands. Holdfast Collective will be able to make unlimited political contributions with no tax benefit for its donation. For decades, the company has given 1% of its sales mainly to grassroots environmental activists, so the solution to simultaneously run a profitable corporation while tackling climate change comes as no surprise. “What the Chouinard family has done is really remarkable,” says Dan Mosley who was instrumental in the design of the new structure. “It’s irrevocably committed.”

The New York Times

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