•  Our Mission

    The Working World builds cooperative businesses in low-income communities, using a groundbreaking model that combines non-extractive finance with tailor-made business support.

What We Do

We put finance in the hands of working people without making them put down collateral or take on the burden of debt that may threaten their wellbeing. We do this by using applied research to promote a more inclusive form of ownership — businesses that are collectively run and owned by their workers and community — and tying loan returns to project success to minimize risk, both for our fund and the enterprises we help thrive.


Acting as partners lets us focus on what’s really important: the stability and growth of businesses that are based in and built to serve low-income neighborhoods. It also means that we never take a single dime from the people we work with that doesn’t come from income we’ve helped generate. No community will ever be made poorer by working with us.


That’s what we mean by non-extractive finance — a business loan should be a tool to help you grow, not to rob you blind.

Our Projects

We research and work in places that have serious needs but also enormous impact–post-crisis Argentina; the Nicaraguan countryside; shuttered factories in Chicago; New York neighborhoods destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

In May 2012, we applied our learnings from Argentina and Nicaragua to help workers at New Era Windows in Chicago buy back their factory after it was shut down overnight by an unscrupulous businessman. Sixteen workers with an average twenty-three years’ experience have now become business owners. Little surprise that they plan to do business differently, putting their community’s needs first.

In spring 2013, we helped launch two worker-owned cooperatives in Far Rockaway, a New York neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Sandy. La Mies Bakery and Roca Mia Construction emerged from our three-month training program to provide meaningful sources of worker-ownership, as well as products and services that their community badly needs to recovery and flourish.

Our lending model gives people and communities the chance to take their working lives into their own hands.

Our Process

We begin with businesses that are interested in both extending ownership to all their workers and democratizing their decision-making process. Our team, working hand-in-hand with these businesses, help design loan projects that can be implemented in small, sometimes even weekly, increments.

We couple this with a business curriculum that is carefully researched and built from the ground-up to be tailored to even the most inexperienced of entrepreneurs. After agreeing on a plan of action, we lend the capital necessary to turn good ideas into productive plans and successful companies.

The result is a sustainable holistic model that creates lasting economic development and more resilient communities.

98% repayment rate just from income we helped generate
1000+ investments in worker and community owned companies
210+ companies democratically owned by workers
$0 extracted from the economy

Since 2004, The Working World has supported more than 800 projects with over 200 businesses–lending more than four million dollars and creating hundreds of jobs in the process.

Browse Our Projects