A maona (Arabic: معونة ma‘ūnah 'help', Arabic: معاونة mu‘āwanah 'mutual help') or Societas comperarum was a medieval Italian association of investors formed to manage the purchased shares (loca or partes) of the revenue due to the relevant city-state through tax farming; the shares were individually sold to wealthy merchants, but the collection could be difficult and so these merchants would band together.
These organizations were usually temporary, and could sometimes be extremely aggressive in extracting the monies due them; their actions went up to, and included, outright conquest. The origins of the concept of joint investment combined with joint (private) enforcement can be traced back to trade financing in Mesopotamia. The linguistic roots of the Arabic word Maounach can best be translated as help or helping each other. The maonas were de facto the first examples of shareholding companies (in the Western world at least) and were used by the Genoese to enlarge their dominions in the Levant in the 14th century. Maona were especially common in Genoa and the territories of the Republic of Genoa.
Maona of Chios and Phocaea
The most notable such company was the one administering the island of Chios in the Aegean Sea and the nearby port of Phocaea, formed in 1346. The Maona soon was sold to the Giustiniani family of settlers on Chios, who then ruled the island until the Ottoman conquest in 1566.
The model proved successful and in 1373 the Genoese also founded the "Maona Vecchia di Cipro" in Cyprus.