Transforming the Extractive Economy

  • Impact Stories
  • Network Leaders

Dec 9, 2019 Common Future

Brendan Martin leveraged his time in the Fellowship to conceptualize and develop the Seed Commons, a peer network that serves as the movement infrastructure for non-extractive finance.

Seed Commons is a national network of locally-rooted, non-extractive loan funds that brings the power of big finance under community control. Seed Commons takes in investment as a single fund, then shares that capital for local deployment into cooperative enterprises by and for communities, lowering risk while increasing impact. Since their first national convening in 2015,  30 organizations have trained in Seed Commons’ non-extractive model and 14 member funds have commenced lending.

Seed Commons is built on the bedrock of The Working World, replicating their model and leveraging their track record to scale impact nationwide. The Working World has roots in Argentina, having launched from the financial collapse that left a struggling industrial economy. Brendan co-founded The Working World to provide much-needed investment capital to the democratically owned and managed worker cooperatives that arose to occupy formerly bankrupt and abandoned businesses.

In 2012, after successes in Argentina and Nicaragua and a 98% return rate across 700+ loans, The Working World launched an ambitious fund in New York to pilot the model in the U.S. In addition to developing the national network, Brendan now leads business development and financing to help workers purchase factories for worker-owned enterprises, using a ground-breaking model combining non-extractive finance with tailored business support.

In the US, The Working World has continued to provide non-extractive finance with repayments coming only from profit sharing and without personal guarantees. Seed Commons member funds, including The Working World in NYC, have now made more than 100 community investments totaling $7.8M nationwide.

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