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BEDC seminar on financing co-operatives

Christina Jennings: co-operative financing expert

“Financing Your Co-operative” is the theme of a seminar to be staged by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation in Hamilton next month.

Christina Jennings, the guest presenter will talk about how co-operatives’ frustrations with trying to get financing from banks led to an innovative solution in the US.

The seminar will take place at St Andrew’s Church Hall, Church Street, Hamilton on June 4 from 6pm to 8pm.

With regard to co-operative financing, the presentation topics will include member equity, patient capital, common/preferred stock, subordinated loans, foundation grants, impact investors and community development funds.

Ms Jennings, executive director of Shared Capital Co-operative in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has worked for 20 years in community development finance and microfinance in the US and internationally.

Shared Capital Co-operative is a national Community Development Financial Institution loan fund that works to build a democratic economy by investing in co-operative businesses and housing. It has 237 members in 34 US states and has provided more than $50 million in loans to co-operatives since 1978.

Ms Jennings said: “We believe that co-operatives are an important economic tool for equitable community development and community wealth building.

“Our financing supports local communities that are starting and growing co-ops to create living wage jobs, support sustainable food systems, provide affordable housing and develop democratic workplaces.”

Shared Capital Co-operative was founded in 1978 by co-operative leaders in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St Paul who were frustrated by the challenges local co-ops faced in getting financing from banks.

Wanting to ensure that all co-ops would have access to capital, they decided to pool their extra cash to start a self-help, revolving loan fund. Since then, Shared Capital Co-op has remained true to its mission, providing financing to co-operative enterprises to support growth and expand the co-operative business sector.

William Spriggs, director of economic and co-operative development at BEDC, said: “The co-op energy is building as evidenced by the growing number of people keenly interested in learning more about co-ops; many having attended all of our past co-op seminars. Ms Jennings has a wealth of knowledge within the co-op finance sector, so I am sure attendees will be impressed.”

Admission to the event is free. RSVP to BEDC, e-mail: dmapp@bedc.bm, or call 292-5570