Michael has nearly 40 years experience in new venture creation, and has long been a progressive thinker in the field of sustainability, corporate responsibility and local economic development. He has a deep understanding of general corporate law, corporate securities law, banking and tax law and more.
More recently he has pursued social entrepreneurial efforts, principally through Commonwealth Group. Over the past five years, he has applied his experience by advancing concepts directed at programs with a public benefit, primarily community economic development. Along with Vari MacNeil in 2008, Michael founded the National Commonwealth Group, a think tank focused on local economic development and support for Main Street businesses, particularly around capital formation and credit. That led to extensive involvement in the banking and corporate securities spaces, where Michael and his team developed a number of game changing strategies to unleash funding for Main Street business, including a new model of community banking owned by the public rather than private shareholders, and a new way to regulate capital formation for small businesses.
Many of those ideas were published in a large number of articles, books and other writings including A Primer on “Going Public: How companies too small for the national stock exchanges can access public capital (2010), which laid out the premise for crowdfunding before the concept became widely accepted, along with many others listed below. Those efforts led to their current investment banking efforts utilizing crowdfunding and incorporating a number of the ideas contained in the primer for a more complete version of crowdfunding than is being contemplated by the rest of the industry.
Michael’s groundbreaking concept for regional stock exchanges was explored in the book Local Dollars Local Sense by Michael Shuman. In 2002, Michael was recognized by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as one of 35 “Technology Pioneers” worldwide.
The first project of Commonwealth Group was the CEED Program, a community economic development plan. Development of the CEED Program uncovered deep inadequacies in the economic environment with respect to the financing needs of small businesses. That led to extensive involvement in the banking and corporate securities spaces, where Michael and his team developed a number of game changing strategies to unleash funding for Main Street business, including a new model of community banking owned by the public rather than private shareholders, and a new way to regulate capital formation for small businesses. Those efforts led to their current investment banking efforts utilizing crowdfunding.
Michael previously founded a series of new businesses in Silicon Valley. In 1998, he founded Rolltronics Corp., VoltaFlex Corp. and InnoSigns to leverage new “roll-to-roll manufacturing methodology. He later co-founded Seertech Corporation to consolidate these companies and provide a platform for growing new ventures.
Those projects evolved from his pioneering work at HP Labs, where he initiated a new business development project intended to provide a more conducive lab-to-market environment for technologies that were not finding commercial outlets within the company. Michael solicited and received help for the project from Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma and “The Innovator’s Solution, and from Dr. Mark Rice, co-author of “Radical Innovation: How Mature Companies Can Outsmart Upstarts and later dean at Babson, who recruited him for a custom Ph.D. program concerning “New Venture Creation in Mature Companies” built around his HP efforts.
Before joining HP, Michael founded NovaQuest, an IT consulting company; NovaQuest/ proQuaestus a software company that developed an international trade database related to commodity classification and customs duty rates; Interconnect Options, which specialized in telecommunications systems; Warm Springs Development Associates, a real estate development company that led the initial development phase of a 700-acre high tech industrial park in Fremont, Calif.; and I.E.S. Construction Services, which served the heavy equipment segment of the construction industry.
Michael’s concept for reinvigorating local economies through a network of regional stock exchanges, was explored at length in the book Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity by Michael Shuman, internationally acclaimed author and speaker, and research director at Cutting Edge Capital, an online marketplace that connects investors with independent, social enterprises.
In 2002, Michael was recognized by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as one of 35 “Technology Pioneers worldwide.
Below is a comprehensive list of many of his writings and videos, the majority of which were written by Michael and edited by his colleague Vari MacNeil:
Wealth inequality – a proposed tax code change for the 99% published on LinkedIn Pulse 2017 This article explores how important changes to the US tax code could greatly increase the percentage ownership by employees in the companies they work for.
5 Proposals for Increasing Economic Growth and Workers Security filed with the United States Senate Banking Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs 2017
How to Increase the Flow of Capital to Small Businesses While Enhancing Liquidity for Investors published on LinkedIn Pulse 2016 This article introduces the concept of small business holding companies (SBHCs) and how they can serve as a replacement for business development companies (BDCs) to serve the capital formation needs of small businesses.
A Community-Centric Small Business Holding Company 2016 This document provides for an alternative funding vehicle for small business. It can be found in what I call a public small business holding company (SBHC).
Retiring Business Owners Flood Market published on LinkedIn Pulse 2016 This article explores a rapidly growing dilemma being created by the retirement of a large number of baby boomer business owners and how that represents a large threat to local economies everywhere.
Capitalism 2.0: 7 Reasons to Believe the Transition has Begun published on LinkedIn Pulse 2016 This article explores the massive changes taking place below the public’s radar screen that mark a fundamental paradigm shift in the world of capitalism leading to a more socially and environmentally responsible version.
Venture Capital 2.0 – The VC world is about to be disrupted – by something it created more than 35 years ago published on LinkedIn Pulse 2016 This article shows how BDCs can disrupt venture capital.
The UNO – A new complementary currency dedicated to reducing poverty & helping build healthy local economies (overview) 2016 This document introduces the idea of the UNO, a new complementary currency that is coupled with the concept of universal basic income (UBI) to eliminate poverty where deployed.
The UNO – A new complementary currency dedicated to reducing poverty & helping build healthy local economies (full white paper) 2016 This document fully explores the idea of the UNO, a new complementary currency that is coupled with the concept of universal basic income (UBI) to eliminate poverty where deployed.
UNIEX-CF – A Business Summary, 2013. The federal JOBS Act has enabled new market opportunities for portal companies that facilitate crowdfunding. UNIEX-CF, LLC is a portal enterprise with key differences that set it apart from the other “me too portals. It will do so by offering a spectrum of crowdfunded enabled offerings, including Regulation A & A+, Rule 147 Intrastate, Reg D 506(b) & 506(c) and even Regulation S (offshore) offerings, along with M&As and more.
Community Cooperatives – An Alternative Approach to the Mondragón’s Model and Why We Need It, 2013. A community cooperative is an entity that would serve as the principal vehicle to help convert existing local businesses into worker-owned enterprises and to assist entrepreneurs who want to form new businesses using a cooperative framework. This entity would provide both financing and business coordination (training, supervision and guidance) and community-wide promotion (i.e., a “buy local campaign) and serve as the integrative mechanism for the entire effort within the community.
Intrastate Crowdfunded Offerings – How to ensure integrity with the SEC, 2013. The 1930s federal securities laws made special provision for the states to define their own rules for securities sold exclusively within each state. Such offerings are called intrastate offerings wherein stocks and bonds (securities) are sold by companies located in a particular state exclusively to residents in that state. As long as certain guidelines are followed by the companies making these offerings, states have sole discretion to establish their own regulations on such things as to whom those securities can be sold (e.g., accredited versus non-accredited investors), how large the offerings can be, and whether the offering company can solicit investments via a general solicitation. This article explores the concept of intrastate offerings and how to do them safely within the context of SEC regulations.
From Scarcity to Prosperity – The Critical Role of Community Banks, 2013. Community banks, vital to the health of local economies, are disappearing in record numbers. This document presents a strategy to reverse that trend.
BND (Bank of North Dakota) Services – BND focuses on lending that supports North Dakota’s economic priorities, 2013. In 1919, residents of North Dakota were facing very similar economic conditions that plague the rest of the nation today. Popular consensus wanted state ownership and control of marketing and credit agencies. Thus, the state legislature established Bank of North Dakota (BND) and the North Dakota Mill and Elevator Association and today North Dakota, the only state in the nation with its own bank, has the healthiest economy in the whole country and boasts the lowest unemployment rate. This document explores the kinds of services BND provides and how they benefit the state.
Prospective Programs under a public benefit banking strategy, 2013. National Commonwealth Group, Inc. (NCG) has developed a public benefit banking strategy designed to help get credit flowing again on Main Street through a combined program of strengthening existing community banks and developing new community bank programs implemented in partnership with those banks or through new publicly owned banking structures. The range of programs includes the majority of those offered by the Bank of North Dakota, as described in the above BND Services document, along with others proposed by NCG as outlined in this document.
Public Banking A Tool For Fixing The Economy And The Means to Achieve It, 2013. This article explores the benefits that can be provided by public banks. A public bank is a bank owned by either a government entity such as a country, state, county or city, or a non-profit organization (or both), rather than by private shareholders. Approximately 40% of all banking worldwide is done by public banks, but the U.S. is well below that number, with the Bank of North Dakota (BND) being one of the few examples. This article explores how the U.S. can substantially increase its number of public banks, to the benefit our our local economies and the rest of the country.
Benefits to Community Banks of Bank of North Dakota model, 2013. a short document that demonstrates why having a state bank can be very beneficial for the community banks in that state, as exampled by how BND serves the needs of the state’s banks.
Public Banking – A Strategic Overview, 2012. This document is an overview of the public banking strategy explored in depth in the Banking & Credit in America document below.
Banking & Credit in America – How Public Banks And Other Public Benefit Financial Institutions Can Rescue Our Communities And Revive Local Economies, 2012. This document provides a comprehensive (100+ pages), in-depth exploration of community banking in the U.S. and how public banking can be used to “cure what ails us”. It looks at public banking both here in the U.S. as it exists today, in particular with the Bank of North Dakota, and compares that with public banking around the world, especially in Germany with their Sparkassen banks. It further explores how such banks can be established here and how they funded and run.
A Foreclosure Prevention Real Estate Investment Fund, 2012. This document explores the prospects of establishing special real estate investment funds as an L3C (limited profit limited liability company) to buyout notes and mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure and converting those acquired notes and mortgages into new instruments that would not only terminate the foreclosure proceedings, but provide a means for the homeowners to remain in their homes.
Eminent Domain: How to use eminent domain to stop foreclosures, rescue homeowners and save communities, published 2012 in paperback on Amazon (Kindle version) This is an in-depth (50+ page) book that explores how local governments can use eminent domain to rescue homeowners facing foreclosure. It develops the full legal case for why such local governments not only could, but should use eminent domain as a tool for preventing foreclosures in their communities. It provides a step-by-step set of guidelines on how either a homeowner and/or local government body can use this tool for the benefit of not only the homeowner, but the rest of society as well.
Small Business Capital Markets Regulation: A New Paradigm 2011 This document calls for the establishment of a new SRO (self-regulatory organization), parallel and equal to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), tasked with regulation and oversight of the capital markets related to small businesses, one that would take over a subset of the activities currently performed by FINRA.
Funding Small Businesses A New Approach 2011 An introduction to the new SRO concept and the actual proposed U.S. Congressional legislation titled “THE SMALL BUSINESS CAPITAL MARKETS ACT” (withdrawn). This document and the legislation was done in partnership with one of the nation’s top securities attorneys Lee Petillon (now deceased).
Enhancing Investor Protection: A New Perspective, 2011. This short one page document explores one of the most fundamental shortsighted elements of small business securities regulation at both the state and federal level, with its excessive focus on fraud avoidance and near total lack of attention to the much larger cause of investor losses – the preventable death of legitimate, honest small businesses and how a shift in emphasis to addressing that problem would result in far greater investor protections that all the fraud prevention could possibly accomplish.
Letter to the White House on Innovation, 2011. This letter to the White House addresses the critical role that small businesses perform in nurturing innovation and job creation in this country and how their ability to do both is severly hampered by the nation’s securities laws, which do more to kill than foster both innovation and job creation.
Job Creation In America – How Government Regulations Stand In the Way and What Can Be Done About It (proposing a new SRO like FINRA for small business), 2011. This PowerPoint presentation explores the negative role that the nation’s securities play in stifling job creation in this country and calls for the establishment of a new federally chartered regulatory body (an SRO or self regulatory organization) to take over regulation of small business capital formation (Main Street companies) as distinct from regulation of Wall Street and large corporations.
Job Creation In America – The UNIEX solution, 2011. This document explores the benefits that could be derived by the nation’s small businesses by the creation of a new type of stock exchange that was designed to serve the needs of small businesses rather than the manner in which Wall Street stock exchanges serve the needs of big business. We called this exchange UNIEX which is short for UNIversal EXchange. It was the forerunner for UNIEX-CF, the latest version of the UNIEX concept as enabled by various forms of crowdfunding.
A Primer on “Going Public – How companies too small for the national stock exchanges can access public capital, 2010. This article teaches the basics of what it takes for a company to go public in the U.S. with a particular emphasis on how small companies can go public and take advantage of public capital. (Note – this article was written before equity crowdfunding became a reality. However, several ways of fundraising in this article, including Regulation A offerings and Intrastate offerings, constitute additional ways to do crowdfunding alongside that authorized by the JOBS Act.)
The Wealth of the Commons and Public Benefit Financial Institutions published in OpEd News, 2010 Our current financial institutions are failing us. This article explores a number of new public benefit financial institutions like a new stock exchange, public benefit banks, a new form of venture capital and the like. Each of these new models is designed to serve humanity and the planet, not the other way around.
Public Banking And L3Cs, 2010 In other articles, Commonwealth Group has introduced the concept of public banking, i.e. banks owned and operated solely for the benefit of the public, as the means for bootstrapping economic development nationwide. This article explores how governments, non-profit organizations, foundations, pension funds, unions and others can join forces to implement public banking under the structure of L3Cs .
How Unions Can Seize Financial Control of Their Destiny, 2010 Unions experienced peak membership in the United States in the post-war decades, at around 36% of the workforce. They are now below 12%. Wall Street’s greed and excesses have decimated the financial portfolios of unions and other retirement funds, while loans have reduced to a trickle. This article explores how unions can escape the clutches of the big banks and Wall Street and take control of their own financial destiny. It show how they can turn this crisis into an opportunity to not only rebuild their financial resources, but use them to stimulate union membership and employee ownership and improve the economic health of the country’s middle class.
A New Stock Exchange Where People and the Planet Matter, 2010. What if there were a stock exchange where society and the environment were the top priority and profit a means to maintain continuity and not an end in itself? What if the corporations listed on such an exchange were valued based on how well they served society instead of solely by short-term profit? Such an exchange is possible. Read this article for the basics and then go to this link for updates.
Publicly Owned Banks: A Multi-Purpose Solution published in OpEd News 2009. This article builds on the ideas presented by Ellen Brown concerning publicly owned banks, by advocating another approach to accomplishing the same goal using non-profit corporations as the owners of the bank, instead of the government. The purpose of such banks is to green our communities and our country.
Publicly Owned Banks: Two Approaches – introduces the idea that public banks can be owned by governments and non-profits
An Energy and Climate Bill for the Rest of Us published in OpEd News 2009. This article details some critical shortcomings in the The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) energy bill that need to be corrected. Our country will only become truly green when we make our communities green, something the current bill does not address. This proposed legislation fixes that and focuses on creating thousands of small green companies, not jut big solutions, all across the country. That is how we can create the millions of green jobs needed.
So, You Want To Be An Entrepreneur?, 2008. From the introduction to this 100+ page ebook: “There are many ‘how to’ books, and other resources, aimed at people who want to be entrepreneurs. This book is different … This ebook is the result of what I have learned over a 30 year entrepreneurial career. During that time, I have founded, built, run, sold and merged more than a half dozen small companies, all in diverse industries. I have raised millions of dollars in investor funds, been worth millions, and have even lost it all (a very valuable experience)… I have come to realize that the fundamental choices an entrepreneur makes very early on, even before an enterprise is launched, ripple into the future and substantially determine the eventual success or failure of that business. Just as the acorn contains the blueprint of what will, one day, be an oak tree, choices made at the beginning of any entrepreneurial effort become the DNA code for that business. A code that you can program, if you choose to…The purpose of this ebook is to help you understand what you should do before you take steps to put a business together…”
The Inevitable Future of Capitalism, 2008. This article captures and extrapolates the trends that the author sees occurring in the world today and where he believes those trends will inevitably take us, as viewed from an unknown point in the future. These trends concern the world of capitalism and all the interplays between that institution and society and the planet. This article will explore what forces will come into play that will bring about fundamental shifts in the brand of capitalism that was born and bred in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Rewiring Corporate DNA published in the BAWB (Business As An Agent of World Benefit) Interactive Working Paper Series, Case Western University, January 2008. That paper identifies the critical role that corporate statutes play in driving corporate behavior and makes the case that if society wants to permanently modify the behavior of corporations – to make them more socially, environmentally and economically responsible – then we must change those statutes to drive the behavior we would like to see.
The “Triple Bottom Line: A Boardroom Guide, published in the National Association of Corporate Directors “Director’s Monthly November 2001. His efforts to change California’s laws to make corporations more socially and environmentally responsible is highlighted in the book, “Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism,” by Patricia Aburdeen. He expanded on that topic in the aforementioned article by the one above titled Rewiring Corporate DNA.
Michael Sauvante’s presentation at the first Public Banking In America Conference, Philadelphia, April 27, 2012 “Foreclosures, Eminent Domain and Public Banking“
Corporate Cooperatives – What is a corporate cooperative and why that label? in three video segments, Video #1, Video #2, Video #3 on YouTube (replaced in 2016 with Small Business Holding Companies). The label “Corporate Cooperative” is used to describe a specific kind of business structure whose purpose is to aggregate a number of small and medium sized private businesses into one collective public entity (a corporation), in order to provide the individual businesses with the increased health, viability and liquidity that a larger, public organization can achieve.