Businesses Try to Make Money and Save the World
By Stephanie Strom
ALTRUSHARE SECURITIES is a brokerage firm, engaged in the sort of things you might expect of a Wall Street outfit, like buying and selling stock, and providing research on companies. Unlike its peers, however, the firm is majority-owned by two charities that each control about one-third of it.
So is it a for-profit business? Or a nonprofit fund-raising machine?
In fact, like hundreds of new businesses starting up around the country, it is both. Altrushare is an example of the emerging convergence of for-profit money-making and nonprofit mission.
The practice is even creeping into corporate bluebloods like General Electric, whose $12 billion Ecomagination business promotes its products’ minimal environmental impact as well as their positive impact on the bottom line. “We’re a for-profit institutional brokerage, and we have to compete on execution and commissions and do so with the same technology and talent you would expect from a top-tier firm,” said Peter Drasher, a founder of Altrushare, which is based in Bridgeport, Conn. “What makes us different is our nonprofit ownership and our mission, which is to support struggling communities with our profits.”