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Strengthening Cooperatives


Supporting Community Ownership

Community-, employee- and member-ownership models are essential to Self-Help. Beginning with our founding in 1980, much of our early work was based on supporting employee-owned enterprises in North Carolina to help workers faced with a declining economy take more control over their futures.

In 1984, Self-Help expanded its member-ownership model and created a credit union as a way to support small businesses that had few financial resources. As a credit union, Self-Help has gone on to lend to many cooperatively owned businesses, including a major ecotourism business, a bakery and multiple food co-ops.

In 2015, we developed a facility for the Durham (NC) Co-op Market  and we helped the Hendersonville (NC) Community Cooperative expand in 2016 (see story below). Self-Help's lending to food co-ops alone has totaled more than $8 million.

Promoting Healthy Food Systems and Cooperative Ownership

Twenty-five hundred families share ownership of Hendersonville Community Cooperative, a natural food grocery store in the mountains of North Carolina. Thanks to a loan from Self-Help and partner lenders, the 32-year-old co-op completed a long-planned expansion in 2016, tripling its retail space and adding room for community outreach. The Co-op is now adjacent to a Self-Help Credit Union branch, creating a hub of member-owned organizations where wealth is created and retained locally.

Smiles from a cashier and a long-time co-op member at Hendersonville Co-op.
Smiles from a cashier and a long-time co-op member at Hendersonville Co-op.