The Ash Center on Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University has recognized Nusenda Credit Union’s Co-op Capital program and its partnership with City Alive and the City of Albuquerque, as a top-25 program for the 2018 Innovations in American Government awards.
Co-op Capital is a micro-lending program created by Nusenda Credit Union. In partnership with City Alive and the City of Albuquerque, Co-op Capital has expanded its mission to widen access to capital to groups that are typically shut-out from traditional financial avenues because of lack of collateral, credit, or alternative financing.
Instead of relying on these typical lending qualifications, the Co-op Capital program flips the traditional lending model and bases lending on trusted relationships between partner organizations – such as nonprofits, community organizations, and educational institutions – and individuals needing capital in the communities they serve.
The Co-op Capital program to date has distributed more than $675,000 to help borrowers obtain college degrees, open new businesses, or grow existing small businesses.
"Our partnership with Nusenda and City Alive helps small, local businesses here in Albuquerque get affordable, safe loans,” said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller. “Alternative loans through programs like these are key to closing racial wealth gaps, tackling income inequality, and creating an economy that works for everyone. This recognition from Harvard's Ash Center on Democratic Governance and Innovation shows that when we change the way we do business, we get the results we need in our city.”
“We know that it’s important to address challenges that local businesses and entrepreneurs face,” said Nusenda President/CEO Terry Laudick. “While community circle micro-lending is not a new concept – especially internationally, we believe that this ‘alternative to the alternatives’ is a great tool to help our fellow New Mexicans succeed in business – and in life.
“This achievement speaks to the work of the Co-op Capital program, the City Alive initiative, and the innovative, forward-thinking spirit of our city; and validates its effectiveness in tackling some of our toughest community challenges.”
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School explores the relationships between democratic governance and the persistence of urgent social programs. The award aims to recognize and promote excellence and creativity in the public sector. Since its inception in 1985 with funding from the Ford Foundation, more than 27,000 applications have been submitted from municipalities, counties, states, and various government entities nationwide; nearly 500 government initiatives worldwide have been recognized for their achievements to date. Previous awardees include New York state, Los Angeles County, and the city of Austin. New Mexico entities have also previously been recognized, including the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions, Santa Ana Pueblo, Luna County, and the city of Santa Fe.
Thanks to support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in 2018 the Co-op Capital program expanded to include 10 new affiliate organizations, including the South Valley Economic Development Center, Family Independence Initiative (FII), Three Sisters Kitchen, and The Street Food Institute. Through their participation in Co-op Capital, these partner organizations will support city-wide goals for entrepreneurship, economic development, and family financial mobility.
For more information on the Ash Center and the Innovations in American Government award, visit https://ash.harvard.edu/innovations-government.
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