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Democratizing Community Development with Boston’s Ujima Project: Episode 18 of Money + Meaning

SOCAP Global March 25, 2019

Episode six of season two of SOCAP’s podcast series, Money + Meaning: Unlikely Allies Building New Markets for Impact is now available!


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Episode 2.6: Unlikely Allies Building a Community Controlled Local Economy

What would happen if the people who live and work in a community were able to create a pool of capital and then collectively decide how to use that fund for the betterment of everyone in that community? The Boston Ujima Project is answering that question by building an equitable, community-based local economy led by Boston’s working class residents of color.
Their innovative model for cooperative, community-based economic development blends grassroots organizing with finance. Ujima is a membership based organization that brings together a wide variety of unlikely allies including residents, small business owners, activists, workers, local organizations, and impact investors (including non-accredited investors). Project organizers aim to make the process of economic development planning fair, equitable, and fun for everyone involved.

The Ujima Fund, which they believe to be the first democratic investment vehicle in the United States, is financing small businesses, and real estate and infrastructure projects in Boston’s working-class Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. They source their deals directly from the communities that the fund invests in. Every investor in the Boston Ujima Fund, whether they contributed $50 or $50,000, has an equal say in how the fund is invested.

In the latest episode of Money + Meaning, Lindsay Smalling interviews Aaron Tanaka and Lucas Turner Owens of The Boston Ujima Project on how their project evolved, how they are using the power of cross sector collaboration to solve challenges and build wealth at the local level, and the impacts they are already seeing in the communities they serve.

Featured Voices

Aaron Tanaka
Cofounder of The Boston Ujima Project

Lucas Turner-Owens
Fund Manager of The Boston Ujima Project

Host: Lindsay Smalling

About Money + Meaning

Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. This series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.


Twitter: @UjimaBoston
FaceBook: @bostonujimaproject
Aaron Tanaka was part of the Next System Project panel at SOCAP15. His appearance was featured in Money + Meaning episode 10: A Taste of SOCAP.

Equity and Inclusion / Sustainable Development
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