Digital Labor

Brendan Martin


Brendan Martin is founder and director of the Working World, an 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 looking to support the “recovered factory” phenomenon, and out of this was born the Working World financial institution and its methods of non-extractive finance and just-in-time “evergreen” credit. Despite dire predictions of investing in the chaotic groundswell that was the recovered factory movement, The Working World 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 yet still be solvent. 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 and provocative in the context of the US, where The Working World has already funded six cooperatives, including New Era Windows, the manufacturing cooperative that emerged from the infamous Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago. Brendan is a 2009 Ashoka fellow, a two time Ashoka Globalizer, a nominated Prime Mover, and a frequent speaker on the solidarity and cooperative economy.

A Financial Platform
For cooperatives to thrive, our Mondragon teachers tell, capital must be subordinate and instrumental to the needs and uses of people, and having a financial platform in this mold is essential to building a cooperative economy. Creating finance that is community owned and yet scalable, local and knowable and yet that can span our nation, can only be done with strategic infrastructure, both institutional and in disperse software, that allows that type of translocal scale and yet is controlled by the people. The challenge of building such a financial infrastructure is one of the key objectives to building a cooperative future.

Cooperative Financing
Sat, November 14
02:00 PM - 03:50 PM