The SRI Article is a good general background introduction to the importance of Socially Responsible Investing, & explains why this kind of project is of a particularly important type to be investing in.
Shares in the EcoVillage
The land remains property of a Foundation, Association or Cooperative – members have shares & right of use & re-sale – note that share prices are reviewed and usually will go up every year. Initial share value is $20,000.00.
Note that technically what we call ‘shares’ are loans to the Project (association, foundation, cooperative – once established) toward the 8th Life Panama Initiative, they are not stocks or securities and there is no joint stock company at present. We use the term share as described in the first definition of the wikipedia share disambiguation page: To share a resource (such as food or money) is to make joint use of it; see sharing.
You become an investor in the Community as soon as you invest in the project, giving your full name and passport number on the deposit description, paying any multiple of $2,000. The minimum investment is $2,000 (one ‘mini-share’) and the maximum is $20,000 (one full ‘share’). The increase in value in your investment will be proportional to the increase in productive value of the site, which is something you can contribute to directly if you wish, by being a founder or resident member.
You can withdraw your investment at any time on the condition that there is another person that wishes to buy your share at the time. The value of the shares should increase with time, depending on the quality of the work done on the farm, external markets and the productivity of the Eco-Village and Eco-businesses we are creating here. So of course your creative involvement toward those ends is encouraged, although in the case of benefactors not obligatory. Note that share prices will be reviewed every year.
Your initial payment for a share as founder, resident member or collaborative member are investments.
Your monthly quotas (amount tbd) pay common monthly expenses of everyone who live at the Community and aren’t an investment.
Be a permanent member and invest in a full share or a portion thereof
After the trial period and a mutual decision is made, then you invest in a share of the Eco-village. With your share comes a lot to build your house on and the ability to develop productive projects on the land, along with participation and vote in the village assemblies.
Your investment is a share in the community. The initial share value is $20,000. This gives you access to a lot on which to build your house in one of the healthiest possible living environments, access to productive land for other projects, and a supportive living and working environment plus some interesting business opportunities, in case, like most of us, you’re not financially independent. Of course your home and business can be sold if you ever wish to move on.
Come here for part of every year and have mini-shares
This works like a time-share. $2,000 for each mini-share (a mini-share equals one month per year) – if you buy one month, you can live at Casa Ubuntu or the Ecovillage for one month per year at a reduced cost. The mini share is not transferable. Please note that each share or mini-share is a permanent investment, so you only need to pay for them once, not every year or month.
Invest in the Eco-village but not live here
External Investors or ‘Angel Investors’ are people who do not live in the Eco-village, although they might visit or stay for holidays as arranged with the residents.
We welcome external investors, in which case you simply “keep your money in the project” as you would keep money in a bank, but knowing that ‘the bank’ in this case is the earth, quite directly. Here we are putting your investment to work on improving the fertility and economic viability of a specific piece of land and project, as described in this website and in strict accordance with permaculture design principles, ethics, directives and techniques.
8th Life Panama currently has one Angel Investor who for the moment doesn’t desire any publicity. Her investment allowed us to build the bridge and the Rainbow Bunkhouse.
What do investments pay for?
Share money goes mainly to infrastructure costs & can be recuperated on exit from the project (if there are new share-holders wanting to buy your share).
In addition to your share, there are monthly living costs which are shared among all residents, as in any household, and ‘rent’. Rent applies to everyone during the early stages before members build their houses on the property, to mini-share holders, and at any point in time to people staying at Casa Ubuntu (unless a work-trade has been negotiated under special circumstances). As of 2020, monthly rent is $200/person, including all utilities and will be reduced as explained here.
Half of the initial quotas of the founders will go to repaying the land and half will be used for infrastructure and towards the cost of establishing the legal entity which will ensure the future of the Community.
The project founder and manager already purchased the land, but to maintain equality among members, once there are sufficient co-founders to reimburse the cost of the land (less the value of her initial quota) and to establish the legal entity under which the land will be held, the land will be transferred to the legal entity. This way everyone has an equal stake in the project.
Other investments can be designated for the land fund or for the common infrastructure project fund. Some examples of infrastructure that are needed include water and electric systems. Also included in this category is the development of the detailed plan of the Finca with its respective topography and indicating the type of vegetation, soils, superficial water, etc. The founder may continue to invest in some of these elements, which may increase the initial share value or change where initial share investments are deposited (land fund versus common infrastructure fund, for instance).
At some point in time we estimate there may be a cost associated with administering these funds, which may very well be the EcoBusiness of a co-founder who is dedicated to seeking new investments and donations and promoting the project. If and when this occurs, we will disclose it here.
Donations are also welcome from individuals & organizations who want to support our work, and can be of any amount. The difference with donations is of course that they are a gift, with no expectation of return of the moneys in the future, but investments are loans (& speculative risk, as with any type of investment).
We welcome those making donations (as with investors) who also wish to be involved more actively in the management of whatever funds they donate – for example in making the decisions about which project to support with their funds, follow developments & be involved in the practical work to any extent possible.
Some examples of project costs follow (but note that even small donations of $10-100 for example are very useful & welcome as we could put them towards funds for any of these or other projects):
there are many young people who would greatly benefit from doing a practical integral permaculture design internship but can’t afford the cost. We would love to offer some scholarships to cover partial or full costs for such people. The volunteers/interns can then be matched up with donors to keep them in touch personally with their progress, if the donor wishes. A full scholarship (course, transport, 3 month residency + materials to build whatever project they choose) for one intern is between $2500-$3000.
Scholarships for Permaculture Students
we work with the PermaCulture Academy (see http://bit.ly/ActionLearningCourses). A full scholarship for one student would be between 286€ & 2,700€ (EUROS) depending on which course they choose, for online courses only. On-site courses cost, for instance around $400 for a 1-month PDC.
Building Small Structures
many small structures will need to be built for the community, like solar showers, compost toilets, outdoor kitchen, animal shelters, clay ovens, solar panels, windmills, micro-hydro plants, water storage … etc.
If you have a pet project you would like to build, or see built, this is a great way to combine a donation with an active holiday, or just monitor it from a distance as we can keep you fully informed of progress (with videos, etc) & involved in all design decisions (through skype meetings), if you wish.
These can cost anything between $50 and $5,000 in materials, + more if we also employ an expert builder (also helping employ local skilled artisans, which is very important for the economy).
Building Major Structures
In 2020 we expect to begin working on a water capture system to include earthwork for ponds, swales & irrigation. This is being designed and will be priced. We also have to price the development of the topographic map described earlier, and the development of the electric system.
Subsidizing a Share
Subsidizing families & individuals who would love to buy a share in the Community but don’t have the funds is a great way to ensure that someone who has been cooperating and sharing with us and who has participated in the PDC courses, can become a member more quickly. The amounts for this option would be between $5,000 – $20,000 to subsidize a share, since we can combine funds from more than one donor.