Next City – The Co-op With Forty Years of Making Loans to Co-ops

From Next City:

At Shared Capital Cooperative, a Twin Cities-based loan fund, Executive Director Christina Jennings rattles off what the fund has in its pipeline. About a dozen loans were recently approved, she says, another 16-18 in the final application phases, and another 25-30 leads that are in active pre-application conversations with her team.

“I’d say two-thirds of those are worker co-op projects, which is a huge change from where we were in 2016,” Jennings says. “Some are start-ups, some are conversions [into worker cooperatives] or expansions — groups needing to borrow to get to the next stage. They’re all around the country. That’s really exciting to see that kind of shift so quickly, and it’s not that the other projects have gone away, it’s that these kinds of projects are growing.”

Shared Capital Cooperative is riding a worker co-op wave of sorts. Just in the past few months, Illinois, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine and Berkeley, California, have all announced policies or new programs to support worker cooperatives, adding to others over the past few years. But access to capital remains a key barrier for worker cooperatives. Shared Capital isn’t the only loan fund that lends exclusively to cooperatives, but it offers one model for providing capital to cooperatives that’s tried and true — Shared Capital celebrates its 40th birthday this month.

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