A Solari Circle is a small (twelve or fewer members is recommended) financial action club formed by people who know and trust each other and who choose to “conspire” to help each other anticipate and adjust successfully to changes in our lives.
A Solari Circle can be formed by people who live next to each other and meetings can be in person. It can also be formed virtually and function by bridge call. Both forms can be supported with virtual forums and e-mail or not as the members choose.
A Solari Circle can be secretive or open and transparent; it can network with others or function alone.
A Solari Circle can choose to do one, two or all of three things:
Members can educate each other as to how money and resources work around them, what is happening to their own money and resources and develop strategies to enhance the well being and reduce the risk of the members and their families and communities.
The Circle members share what they have learned about current events and which sources they have found to be accurate to help create an alternative means of understanding what is going on.
The Circle creates a simulated investment portfolio and tracks and discusses its performance and what that performance means to current events and individual members’ investments and lives.
The Circle watches a documentary or video presentation together while sharing a pot luck dinner and then members discuss what they have learned and what it means in terms of members can better manage time and assets.
The Circle listens to a presentation by a member of their community who has been invited to make a presentation of interest, such as:
- how to switch to a good local bank by the President of the local bank or credit union
- how to sign up for community supported agriculture (CSA) by a local farmer operating a CSA
- how members can lower their energy bills by a member of the local utility
- what is happening in local venture capital by an investor in a local angel network
Members organize to take actions together that benefit the members.
The Circle listens to a member describe a personal or business challenge. They then develop an action plan through which members take steps to help the member in question succeed in navigating the obstacles before them.
The Circle members practice maintaining their “deposits” within the Circle by agreeing to a savings “hand” —an amount that each member will “deposit” each time they meet. So for example, twelve meet every two weeks and have a “hand” of $100. Every two weeks, $1,200 is collected and one member of the group takes the entire amount. Over time this form of savings ensures that interest that the banking system would earn on this amount of deposits goes to the benefit of the group instead, while encouraging members to save and support each other in accumulating funds to buy a home, start a business or pay down debt.
The group researches local barter exchanges and determines how participating could create revenues for members or save them time and money.
For Solari Circles interested in investing together, there are a number of options. For groups that are not used to investing in a group form, we strongly recommend starting in education mode and simulating investment together until the members are comfortable working with investment research and decision making together.
If the Circle is interested in investing in publicly traded or liquid securities, as with a traditional investment club, members can pool capital to invest together.
Most local investment is private, non-liquid investment. There are several ways a Solari Circle can organize to pursue this kind of investment.
The simplest form is for members to commit to do a certain amount and then independently participate on a deal by deal basis, along the lines of angel networks pursuing start up or venture capital. (For background on angel investing, see the recent Kaufman Foundation report.)
Or they can decide to shift a portion of their philanthropy/donations into high risk loans to help people in their community get out of credit card debt or prevent foreclosure or eviction with individuals participating as they feel moved by each opportunity.
It may not be necessary in all cases to start a formal legal entity to pool capital. As opportunities come along, members can participate as they choose or according to whatever guidelines are agreed upon.
Some may want to pool resources for both local investment as well as investment in venture capital related to value-added local investment (e.g., new energy and health technology, farm equipment, resources to rebuild infrastructure) At this point, the Circle would need a legal vehicle to do so.
We have published a Solari Report on how to organize a Solari Circle which includes some useful ideas and materials to help you get going, including documents for a form of investment vehicle for both securities and local investments. You can find it in the Solari Report archives.