Self-Help Association for a Regional Economy (SHARE)  is a community-based program that offers a simple way for citizens to create a sustainable local economy by supporting businesses that provide products or services needed in the region. From 1981 until 1992 SHARE made micro-credit loans available at manageable interest rates to businesses that were considered “high risk” by traditional lenders—usually because of the credit ratings of their owners or the unique nature of the business. Local SHARE members made interest-earning deposits in a local bank, which were then pooled and used to collateralize loans for local businesses, which met a series of social, ecological, and financial criteria. SHARE depositors lived in the same community as the business owners they supported—bringing a human face back to lending decisions.

During its eleven years of operation, SHARE collateralized 23 loans with a 100% rate of repayment – surprising the bankers, but not the SHARE depositors who knew the community businesses they supported. SHARE ended when the banks in the region, motivated by the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) began making loans to small community-based businesses at interest rates lower than those offered through SHARE collateralization.

The SHARE program is described in Jane Jacobs’ book Systems of Survival. Jacobs opened a SHARE account after hearing about the program at the time of her 1983 Annual E. F. Schumacher Lecture. 

The documents available below describe SHARE in detail and provide the forms and agreements needed to start a SHARE program in your region. We also recommend reading the essay, Democratizing Monetary Issue: Vision and Implementation in the Berkshire Region by Susan Witt, to understand the background of the SHARE program.  The essay is an update of Robert Swann’s 1988 Annual E. F. Schumacher Lecture.

SHARE Handbook of Documents

For use in establishing a community-based small business loan collateralization program.

I. What is SHARE?
A. Introduction to SHARE    Online  |  PDF
B. Assumptions Underlying the SHARE Program   Online  |  PDF
C. A Real Story About the Impact of SHARE   Online  |  PDF
D. Congressional Testimony About SHARE before the House Select Committee on Hunger, 1988   Online  |  PDF
E. Article in The New Farm, “What’s Your Money Doing Tonight?” by Fred Zahradnik, January 1984   Online

II. Corporate Documents
A. Bylaws  Online  |  PDF
B. Articles of Incorporation    Online  |  PDF

III. New Account Documents
A. New Member Welcome Letter   Online  |  PDF
B. Depositor Agreement Form – Sets terms and obligations entailed in creating a SHARE deposit. SHARE is a joint signer on the account, but ownership of the funds and interest accumulated remain owned by the depositor.   Online  |  PDF
C. Depositor Consent Form – Authorizes SHARE to use deposits to collateralize loans   Online  |  PDF
D. Example Deposit Slips. Your local participating bank will have its own forms.  PDF

IV. Loan Collateralization Documents
A. Criteria for Loan Collateralization for Applicants   Online  |  PDF
B. Loan Collateralization Application Form   Online  |  PDF
C. Security Agreement Form. Typically the equipment purchased with the loan serves as security for the loan.    Online  |  PDF

V. Example Letters to SHARE Members
A. Update I   Online  |  PDF 
B. Update II   Online  |  PDF 
C. Update III   Online  |  PDF

VI. Example bulletins from SHAREcroppers—a supporting initiative
A. South Berkshire Farm Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 1  |  PDF
B. South Berkshire Farm Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 2  |  PDF
C. South Berkshire Farm Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 3  |  PDF
D. South Berkshire Farm Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 4  |  PDF