Yes – The Co-op That’s Keeping Community Money Out of Big Banks

From Yes! Magazine:

The Financial Cooperative calls its task “nonextractive” or “regenerative finance.” The goal is to give control of capital to communities that have been most marginalized, but also to funnel capital into those communities.

It believes in cooperative control of community financial institutions and set itself up as a cooperative nonprofit, with each participating community getting a say in how the whole operates. The founding members of the cooperative are longtime leaders in the movement with years of experience in all areas of “impact” investment and cooperative finance: The Working World, the Southern Reparations Loan Fund, the Climate Justice Alliance, and the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy are all founding member organizations.

Ed Whitfield, co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities in Greensboro, North Carolina, was one of the co-founders of the Financial Cooperative. He says our current financial system isn’t set up to meet the needs of community.

“Currently, we live in a world where the surplus of human labor is accumulated by individuals for the purpose of increasing their own level of luxury, privilege, and power,” Whitfield said. “It comes from an accumulation that knows no limits and sees no end.”

There are now 23 member financial institutions actively lending or in development around the country. Most are in urban centers—such as the Detroit Community Wealth Fund, the Boston Ujima Project, and Cooperation Richmond in California. Some newer members are in smaller cities or rural regions, such as the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative and Cooperation Central Appalachia Inc. in Charleston, West Virginia.

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