Stewardship Agency – participants’ interaction

11 min read

The Stewardship Agency equips participants with the skills necessary to run successful businesses. It also enhances access to tools of economic production, creating and sustaining growth and opportunities, and improving the community economy’s competitiveness. In addition, the agency is tasked with managing hubs, streets, and gardens.

Stewardship Agency: businesses are based in hubs and central buildings

The concept of stewardship

Participants in a NewVistas community do not own assets. They do have a title to the partnership interest they invest in the community, a minimum of US$ 20,000, from which they receive regular interest payments. The interest payments are proportional to the profitability of the community. From their interest income, a limited partner pays a 10% participation fee, which the Human Relations Agency uses to support those unable to do so, and therefore build a community in which there are no poor.

By investing in the community, a participant’s net worth can be accessed by another participant in form of business support that they receive from different agencies. This not only means that everyone has equal access to capital and other tools of economic production, but also one person’s success is the success of everyone else, rather than a mutually exclusive event. In doing this, the community ensures there is “no poor among them“, and amplifies the concept of fellowship, with a body of people devoted to the same cause.

Capital and other important factors of production are held by the community and are accessible to all. This includes access to working space (business premises), intellectual property, and resource extraction claims and rights.

Limited partners are required to have a business as they join. There is no concept of employment in the community, with every limited partner – and dependents above 12 years old – instead serving clients. This setup boosts profitability, optimizes resource utilization, and frees people from labor contracts.

The community invests resources to help participants succeed in business. In turn, they have a responsibility to use the community infrastructure and resources optimally and responsibly to succeed. For this reason, a business is a “stewardship”, entrusted to a participant so that they can make it thrive, and ultimately, ensure the community’s collective prosperity and success.

The Stewardship Agency helps participants achieve their business dreams by training them on how to start and run a business, helping them with the necessary permits and licenses, controlling unfair trade practices, and in the process, boosting the community’s entrepreneurial capacity, and monitoring establish how they can make the community and individual businesses competitive in the wider economy.

The following examples serve to illustrate the functions of the agency, and how it interacts with participants as it discharges these functions.   

Illustration 1: Medical doctor and lab scientist couple

Edward, 30, is a medical doctor by profession and has been performing his residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UT Health) in San Antonio. He specializes in family medicine. He has been a resident for the last 2 years since graduating from Dell Medical School in Texas. He is married to Mary, 29, a laboratory scientist who also works at UT Health. Together, they have two sons, aged 4 and 1.

Edward and Mary are in the process of joining a NewVistas community in San Antonio. For the last year, they have undergone an intense preparation process, during which they were extensively trained on how the community works and business operations. They learned about how to start a business, how the community’s economic system differs from what they are accustomed to, and the concept of stewardship as a responsibility to the community to produce high-quality services and thrive economically.

The Stewardship Agency frequently assesses their grasp of the course content and its applicability. In addition, the agency’s village presidency for stewardship closely follows the couple’s progress to determine their readiness to be business owners.

Edward and Mary have individual and joint savings accounts. Their consolidated savings total 50,000. They have resolved to divide the money amongst themselves and invest in the community. They each invest $20,000 in the Capital Bank and $5,000 in term deposits in the Community Bank.

Their admission has been confirmed. The couple understands that they have to sell their assets as they join. They still live outside the community but are making arrangements to live on the physical campus. They still pay a mortgage on their house, which is 70% paid. They are contemplating renting it out once they join the community, before eventually selling it.

Before they applied and were accepted for participation, the Stewardship Agency had signaled to captains with a vacancy in their group councils that there needed to be a medical professional, who was at least 25 years old. Edward fits the bill and is eventually selected from a pool of other candidates.

Edward intends to open a small clinic, ideally near where people live, and serve as a family doctor. Mary wants to run a lab. She contends that proximity to where people live, and also other medical practices such as Edward’s will give her a constant supply of clients.

The agency also assesses each person’s specialization, if any. It then recommends any additional education or training that they can do to be more competitive and to respond to the community’s health needs more ably.

Being satisfied that each limited partner is now ready to start a business, the agency allows them to write a business plan using the services offered by the Business Planning Agency. From the business plan, the agency helps conduct a needs assessment, which identifies any licenses, fees, and permits needed to operate. The agency advises on how these can be obtained in the relevant jurisdiction, or, in other cases, refers the limited partners to contractors who specialize in consultation and expediting these requirements.

Edward and the agency agree, that as a family doctor, he needs to be as close as possible to the people he intends to serve. The agency, which runs hubs, among other assets, rents him sufficient space. The agency independently assesses Mary’s request to have her lab in the same hub building and rents her the space she needs.

As separate businesses, both Edward and Mary will make individual decisions regarding their rates, tools, and equipment. Over time, each business may see the need for additional labor. Edward might need a nurse, for instance. The nurse, who is a business herself, will agree with Edward, treating Edward as a client to the extent that she is entitled to any revenues made through her efforts. The nurse is also likely to be serving other doctors, who will likewise be her clients. The nurse, in her practice, may need Edward’s services or expertise. She will have an agreement through which she buys these services from Edward. In this case, each party is independent of the other, while simultaneously enjoying a symbiotic relationship.

Each with a ready business, engaging contractors and having identified potential clients, Edward and Mary formally join the community. They dispose of remaining assets and invest in the community, moving into the physical campus.

Illustration 2: small-scale business couple

Joe and Betty have been married for 15 years. They run a small retail store in Charleston. The store has supported them and their family of 2 girls and a boy for the last 10 years. Joe has training in basic computer applications and driving and occasionally lands gigs as a truck driver. Betty, on the other hand, has little else beyond her high school diploma, apart from a bookkeeping course organized by their church.  

The family of 5 has been successfully recruited into the community. They are almost done with an intense, two-year course that aimed not only to teach them about their community, but to also ensure that once they joined the community, they would possess the skills necessary to compete and integrate. The process also determines any additional help they need once they start their businesses in the community.

The captain who serves the couple closely monitors how well the couple catches on the training. However, after seeing them struggle to learn online, he recommends some experts, from which Joe and Betty pick the one they feel is ideal. Joe and Betty engage the expert and pay for lessons on how to start and run a business in the community. An important aspect of training involves the factoring services offered by the Business Planning Agency and enabled by the Commercial Bank Agency.

The expert contracted by Joe and Betty runs regular assessments to gauge how well they understand the community’s unique way of running a business. They also take time to train the couple on how to navigate various agencies’ automated systems. The contractor makes a report after being fully satisfied that each limited partner has understood business operations.

Joe and Betty have decided that to be close to their children, Betty will run a store in one of their village’s hub buildings. Joe, on the other hand, will seek to have a store in the mall, located in the storehouse. The captain, working in concert with the Stewardship Agency, helps them contact the hosts who handle each space. Each limited partner draws up a rent agreement as needed, and commences business.

Charlotte, the couple’s eldest child, is 13. She also takes simplified business management courses from the automated system, with the captain helping out in areas where she is having difficulty. The courses at this level mainly focus on how to treat customers and save. The courses, for instance, insist that her business will be to help her save up enough money to invest in the community and become a limited partner by 18.

She wants to help out at a local deli, waiting tables. The Stewardship Agency helps her in drawing up any agreements with businesses running delis. These contracts are signed on Charlotte’s behalf by Joe, whom the community recognizes as her guardian. Joe will be responsible for all obligations due to Charlotte, including the lease of any tools and equipment needed (for instance, she may need an apron, or a uniform, which she will hire from the Business Operations Agency).

Illustration 3: High school graduate

Before joining a NewVistas community in Maryland, Mark had no intention of pursuing any further education. Instead, he had dreams of becoming a professional footballer. It started well, but he just was not good enough, and 2 years in, he decided to pursue other interests. He became a car salesman, a job he has held at various companies over the last 2 years.

In the process of joining a community in Maryland, Mark finds it impossible to continue as a car salesman; there are no cars in the community, nor any other asset that he can sell. Instead, his captain advises him to pursue more training and expertise in coaching recreational sports. He takes the cue and enrolls in classes offered by a limited partner in another community, which he takes online.

The classes initially cover fitness lessons, how to be versatile as a trainer, coaching methods, strategies, and other related information. In addition, trainees are taught on how they can use the community’s infrastructure to leverage their skills and earn a living.

Mark passes these classes, and the agency now recommends some business management classes suited for his expected business. The agency tailors the training to suit him, considering his past, his recent training, and the level of competition that he is likely to encounter from similar businesses.

The training also discusses business operations and marketing strategies, basic bookkeeping, and related skills that Mark will need, even with help from other agencies. Constantly, the agency assesses Mark to ensure that he is catching on. In one instance, the agency notes he is struggling. His captain is notified, and after discussing the issue with Mark, recommends a list of contractors, from which he can choose whom he would like to work.

Mark works with and pays the contractor to help him. Once done, and the agency is satisfied that he can now compete, it helps with the next steps – advising on business space, permits needed, and how to reach customers so that they can hire him. Once he has successfully set up the business, Mark resigns from his sales job, sells off any assets, and transfers his money to the community bank, as well as investing in the Capital Bank. He formally becomes a participant.

Illustration 4: Commercial banker

Paul cleared college 6 years ago, earning a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from SUNY. After a brief period holding other jobs, he finally landed a role at HSBC in Albany. Initially, he was a teller but was recently transferred to the bank’s relationship management department. Here, he would manage banking relationships with corporate clients, cross-sell bank products, and advise clients on how to organize and manage their portfolios better.

He has applied to join the community, has been accepted, and is undergoing the initial orientation process. It is now the Stewardship Agency’s turn to offer business training and help Paul open his own business. The skills he possesses are not easily transferrable to the community’s economy. He will need a significant readjustment in his skillset to compete well.

The community studies his academic background and work experience and suggests he set up a financial consultation process. He will be helping businesses plan their finances and investments better. He will also advise them on how they can effectively deal with their customers to build a resilient business.

The agency, working through the captain, the village presidency for stewardship, and contractors where necessary, helps Paul gain the skills he needs. He trains through an online system, with course units specifically tailored to his future business. Additionally, he endeavors to refresh his education, since he has not practiced accounting actively since leaving college.

After the necessary assessments determine that Paul is not ready to be a financial services consultant, the agency embarks on business training. This involves gaining knowledge on how to run a business in the community, how to formulate and execute strategies, and the unique advantages that the community affords businesses like Paul’s.

Paul is now ready to start a business. He approaches the Business Operations Agency for any tools and equipment he may need, including stationery, which is treated as inventory (and therefore factored), furniture, and a computer. The Stewardship Agency helps in all arrangements with other limited partners that Paul needs to work with. The automated system performs this role for the agency. Paul is now ready to start, with skills, space, and tools.

Illustration 5: Mining expert

Isaac worked at Cleveland-Cliffs in Ohio before joining the community. He has a degree in geology from the University of Michigan. At Cleveland-Cliffs, he was a minerals surveyor, helping identify and extract iron ore in the Iron Range.

After joining the community, and getting the necessary orientation from the Human Relations Agency, Isaac needs to undergo business training. He sits down with his captain, with the village president for stewardship also helping to assess his case and determine where his skills can be best applied.

At Cleveland-Cliffs, Isaac was instrumental in developing several mines. He intends to use his knowledge to continue prospecting. He will sell his claims to the community but has indicated that he does not intend to perform extraction himself, instead getting 2% royalty payments.

Courses offered by the Stewardship Agency center on how he can be more effective in prospecting, the community’s approach to claims and rights, and how he can thrive by serving customers better. While previously, he was an employee, he is a business now, with his statement of accounts, expense, and revenue accounts, and therefore needs solid training on financial operations.

Being well knowledgeable of the Iron Range and the mineral deposits, Isaac shortly files a claim, which the Raw Materials and Transport Agency verifies, and buys the claim. The claim is offered to miners, and one signs up and starts mining.

Over time, Isaac feels comfortable to start a mining business. He uses the rights he filed with the Raw Materials and Transport Agency to access a loan from the Community Bank Agency. He uses the loan to carry out more extensive prospecting, operational expenses, and leasing equipment from the Business Operations Agency.

Illustration 6: Farmer

Robert’s family have been farmers in Nebraska for a few generations. They mainly farm corn, which does considerably well. In recent years, however, the farm has not been doing so well, forcing Robert’s father to apply enormous amounts of agrichemicals and fertilizer to boost production, while relying on government subsidies to be competitive in the market.

Robert, who recently turned 25, did not proceed past high school, but he has always had a passion for farming, though he wants to do it differently. He recently heard about a NewVistas community nearby, and after reviewing its approach to agriculture, among other things, decided to join. His application was successful, and he has already undergone orientation.

The Stewardship Agency first trains Robert on how to run farming as a business. It trains him on how it is important for him to succeed, not only by making profits but also by feeding the community. He is taught basic bookkeeping and business management techniques, and constantly assessed.

Thereafter, he takes courses that explain how to undertake sustainable agriculture, taking into account the environment. For instance, he is taught the disadvantages of monoculture, where one crop is farmed on the same land without any rotation or rest to the soil. Other issues include organic agriculture, and irrigation efficiency.

Throughout the training, the Stewardship Agency, for which the captain interfaces, monitors Robert’s performance. If the captain feels that Robert is unable to properly grasp some aspects of the training, as an automated evaluation suggests, he can recommend contractors who train farmers for more intensive sessions. Robert will personally choose and pay the contractor he wants to work with.

After being satisfied that Robert is now ready, the captain advises him to interact with the Business Planning Agency for a business plan. From the business plan, The Cropland and Pastures Agency rents him land, while the Business Operations Agency leases tools and equipment.

Robert may need help on the farm. The Stewardship Agency helps him locate and engage contractors who have stewardships in fields such as equipment operations. Robert enters into agreements with the contractors he needs and commences operations.