The Working World's Model Works: Non-extractive Finance with Tailor-made Business Support [Ep. 87]


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If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.

Brendan Martin is founder and director of The Working World, a cooperative financial institution and business incubator based in Argentina, Nicaragua, and the United States. Brendan originally moved to Argentina in 2004 to work with a group of Argentines in support of the “recovered factory” phenomenon, and out of this was born TWW and its non-extractive financing. Despite dire predictions of investing in the recovered factory movement, TWW achieved a 98% return rate across over 715 loans, and all with repayments only from profit sharing and without guarantees. This experience demonstrated both that grassroots cooperative movements can be economically viable and that finance can be non-extractive and subservient to people. After this success, Brendan helped open a second branch in Nicaragua in 2009, and another in the United States in 2012. The same grassroots cooperative efforts and have proven effective in the context of the US, where TWW has already funded 20+ cooperatives, including New Era Windows, which emerged from the infamous Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago. Brendan is a 2009 Ashoka fellow, a two time Ashoka Globalizer, a 2016 BALLE Local Economy Fellow, a nominated Prime Mover, and a frequent speaker on the solidarity and cooperative economy.


Some highlights from Shawn’s interview with Brendan include:

  • The birth of The Working World and it’s deep roots in Brendan’s family experiences

  • Driven by community instead of profit extraction, The Working World’s lending practices revolve around serving investees first

  • Staying true to their model for the long haul, The Working World has achieved a 98% repayment rate, the funds for which are derived exclusively from the financial success of the companies

  • Brendan’s plans to expand The Working World’s impact and the broader impact network’s cooperative structure for a financial commons





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Shawn Berry is a Partner at LIFT Economy, where he works as an organizational strategist inspired to harness the power of business to create resilient local economies as patterns to be documented, open sourced, scaled globally and adapted regionally.

LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life. You can follow Shawn on Twitter @sd_berry or email him