Rootstock is the ethical investment arm of Radical Routes. By investing your money in Rootstock you can financially support the setting up of grassroots co-operative projects, enabling people to take control of their own housing, work and social life. Radical Routes has strict membership criteria. Each application to join takes 6-9 months to complete, new members rules are scrutinised to ensure that any money lent by Radical Routes is done so to genuine, fully mutual organisations (i.e. individuals cannot directly gain financially from these loans). Co-ops who receive money from Radical Routes must fully participate in the network or risk expulsion and the recall of any money lent. Getting money from Radical Routes is therefore not an easy option. There are, however, benefits for co-ops who borrow from Radical Routes:
- Every co-op in the network must agree to every loan. Who better to scrutinise and comment on a loan application than people who run similar businesses.
- Radical Routes is primarily a mutual aid organisation – we help each other out. Co-ops in crisis are given loan repayment holidays when they need them (provided they meet the requirements laid down by the Radical Routes gathering to remedy any problems). We can provide free mediation if members of member co-ops need it. We can provide help and advice in running the businesses if experience is lacking in new co-ops or in established co-ops whose membership has changed, resulting in skills being lost.
The result of all this is that Radical Routes has a 100% lending record.
Despite often showing a lower failure rate than conventional businesses, banks often discriminate against housing co-operatives because of a lack of familiarity.
Although Radical Routes might only provide 20% or 30% of the purchase price, of a house for example, this contribution is often essential for the project to go ahead.