Friday, December 2, 2011

2011-12-02 "Occupy SF Protesters to Open People's Reserve Credit Union" by Erin Sherbert
​A few weeks ago, we got a real kick out of the fact that Occupy Oakland deposited a $20,000 donation it received into Wells Fargo -- one of the many big banks the movement has been actively protesting since September. Say what you want about Occupy  SF camp (it's dirty and filled with homeless people) -- at least protesters there are practicing what they preach.
Members of Occupy SF announced their ambitious plans to turn protesters into bankers by creating the People's Reserve Credit Union. According to Occupy SF's Facebook page:
The goal of this project is to encourage San Francisco residents, businesses, as well as nonprofit and city agencies to keep their money out of the big banks and to redistribute that money locally. Initial services will include micro-loans for the working poor and homeless, and subsidized student loans at low interest rates.
The credit union is being created with the help of Supervisors John Avalos and Eric Mar. The group filed its paperwork and has already crafted a thoughtful mission statement: The credit union will serve as a replicable model for other financial institutions to reinvest wealth in their local communities. They will support microenterprise, provide educational loans, and foster community improvement projects.
Jason Macarthur, a protester with Occupy SF, listed the goals that the organization plans to achieve within the first year. That includes starting with 500 members with plans to grow to 2,000 members before the end of next year.
Other plans include:
* Accumulate capital assets of $7 million or more, through investments by different organizations, members, et al.
* Open two credit union branches within the city of San Francisco. The first branch location in the mid-Market Street corridor , in the former Social Security Administration storefront (MOCD) , with the assistance of other local nonprofits. Each branch will have a cafe within it and a commercial kitchen available to rent.
* The credit union will employ students and homeless, creating 60 part-time jobs.
* Issue 300 to 500 micro-enterprise loans (max. $5,000).
* Add 1,000 people overall to the city employment payroll.
* Finance and start a food co-op large enough to support a neighborhood.
"Out in the Excelsior, we're underserved by traditional banks .... We have a lot of the same kinds of businesses. Whenever we have a storefront open up, I always expect it's going to be filled by a 99-cent store -- and it too often is," Supervisor Avalos said. "There's a real need to have more diverse neighborhood-serving businesses."
According to Occupy SF volunteers, investors are already lining up to help with the program. "We believe the credit union serves as a model for other financial institutions to reinvest wealth in their communities," said Brian Mckune, an Occupy SF organizer. "We want to show them that there is a way to reduce the impact of large banks on the community at large, and the leakage of local funds internationally caused by the large banks, keeping the money where it belongs."
Who's going to be the first to sign up?

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