New Economy of Tennessee Fund is launched as a collaboration between Free Hearts and Southeast Center for Cooperative Development to help address the problems of poverty and inequality by providing non-extractive funding for cooperative businesses. This fund provides opportunity and gives priority to those who are often left struggling just outside the boundaries of prosperity. Owners in this inclusive new economy will include the formerly incarcerated, people of color, immigrants, youth, the poor, and other marginalized people.
Cooperatives are businesses democratically owned and controlled by the people who work there. Our non-extractive financing is designed to ensure that borrowers are never worse off as a result of the financing; repayment will only come from the wealth created by the loan. In the New Economy, work and capital are democratized (controlled by the people) to create a more just and sustainable life, in which people, planet and community are as important as profit. It’s working together for the benefit of all. As Dr. King said to workers in Memphis, “We can get more together than we can apart.
After a devastating tornado in Middle Tennessee on March 3, 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic unfolding, we see the need to expand our work and start an emergency fund for people of color and specifically Black, Brown, and women business owners and worker cooperative member-owners in Tennessee who are in danger of losing their businesses. While we realize these funds cannot fund long-term sustainability of local small businesses, they can help to secure short-term viability and help us as worker co-op developers make connections with the small business community, part of our ecosystem.
Conversion to worker ownership is a possible way of keeping jobs and small businesses afloat during downtimes like these. If you want to learn more, let us know!
Application LINK for English version: https://forms.gle/vyFv6YDic3SGxCLYA