Community Supported Manufacturing

Similar to community supported agriculture, community supported manufacturing is an agreement between a stakeholding community and manufacturing collective or person, providing mutual aid to fulfill the needs of both parties. Participants agree on specification and quantity of needed products, price per product and seed funding needed to start the production. Stakeholding community provides loan for seed costs and guarantees a quota of products to be bought. The manufacturer pays the loan back from their sales (which should be planned beyond the quota level). Until the loan is paid, manufacturer submits to community’s scrutiny information about use of funded equipment and sales of the product. Support from the community can go beyond money, including physical participation in design and manufacturing, networking and promoting the product in broader circles.

CSM agreement is most suitable in two cases: either if there is a need to design and implement new product (which requires extra work, new equipment and materials) or if there is a need for a big quantity of products, exceeding current production capacity (thus requiring more people, tools and materials).

Sometimes CSM can take a form of sponsored manufacturing, where there is also a third community, receiving products funded by stakeholders.

See “Political is Personal” blog for more theoretical elaboration of the topic.

See CSM category for posts related to the topic