Friends of CFNE,
2019 has been a milestone year for CFNE. With the long-time Executive Director Rebecca Dunn’s retirement, CFNE has successfully transitioned staff leadership for the first time in 33 years. Rebecca worked tirelessly building an efficient and effective cooperative lending institution. Under her leadership, CFNE grew its loan portfolio from under $100,000 to almost $23 million, all with minimal loan losses. CFNE has continued strong under its new leadership, deploying over $5 million to 40 co-ops and community based nonprofits, including start-ups: Tanám/Olio Culinary Co-op (Somerville, MA), Urban Greens Food Co-op (Providence, RI), and Franklin Square Homeowners Association (Montpelier, VT).
With this solid foundation, CFNE is preparing for growing co-op development opportunities; from rural communities, where worker co-op conversions are preserving critical local jobs and businesses, to New England’s cities, where communities of color and immigrants are looking to co-ops to create opportunities for people who have faced structural obstacles to decent jobs.
We need your support to take advantage of these opportunities. We must increase our ability to provide business support and financing across the region both by expanding our internal capacity to serve more communities and by deepening partnerships with organizations that are both new to and experienced with cooperatives. The old adage “it takes a village to raise a cooperative development ecosystem” has never been more true.
For example, last spring, we hired our first Cooperative Business Support Officer. This position helps identify and fill gaps in the technical assistance ecosystem, particularly for worker co-ops with members who are low-income or have not had access to higher education resources — often people of color or immigrants. Through increased direct assistance, new partnerships, and a few strategically deployed small grants, we are developing new tools for co-op development. In the long-term, this will not only help achieve our social, economic, and racial justice mission, but it will also grow our loan portfolio, earning more interest to support these programs. In the short-term, though, the massive need for further programmatic expansion is not supportable by earned income.
So we ask for your support in this work. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution before the end of 2019 to help us expand the region’s co-op economy. You can do this by clicking here. Thank you for all that you do to create a more just and equitable economy, and have a wonderful holiday season!