Frequently asked questions
How much money is Ujima raising?
We aim to raise $5 million by 2021, comprised of $4.5 million of multi-tiered investment capital and $500,000 of grant capital.
How does the investment process work?
The Ujima Fund pools dollars from community members, supporters inside and outside of the city, and foundations, into one fund.
With our grassroots partner organizations, Ujima hosts neighborhood and city-wide planning assemblies with hundreds of residents to create shared values and plans for the local economy. Voting members - Boston residents who live in Boston Proper - get one vote, no matter the size of their investment.
Guided by the community-created plans, the local finance professionals and Ujima members who comprise the Ujima Fund’s Investment Committee (IC) review investment opportunities, conduct due diligence and make recommendations to members before all investments come to a member vote.
What will the fund be invested in?
We have identified five market segments:
Microfinance. Ex: Small equipment for a new worker owned catering co-op
Working Capital. Ex: Inventory purchase for a new bike shop
Growth Capital. Ex: New truck loan for an energy efficiency company
Real Estate. Ex: Real estate acquisition financing for a local Community Land Trust
Community Infrastructure. Ex: Seed financing for community owned internet infrastructure
How will Ujima be accountable to residents?
Ongoing investment democracy through neighborhood and citywide assemblies
Voting member approval of each investment made by the Fund.
Annual business review by the member-elected Community Standards Committee to ensure they meet our Good Business Standards
Member driven strategy through monthly Member Team meetings, including the Evaluation Team which measures our progress in meeting our goals & our accountability to our values
Who can invest, and how much?
How can I invest?
Please read the Offering Memorandum for details about investment and visit this page to make an investment.
How long has Ujima been around?
The seed of Ujima was planted during a Boston Community Finance Study group which began in the summer of 2014. Volunteers organized to form the Boston Ujima Project throughout 2015, and in August 2016 Ujima held a “Solidarity Summit,” bringing together 175 people to democratically lend $20,000 to five local Black & immigrant-owned businesses. In 2017, Ujima hired our first director, Nia Evans, and shortly thereafter began accepting members. From the fall of 2017 and the fall of 2018, Ujima has built a membership of almost 400 people and held five neighborhood and citywide planning assemblies. To date, Ujima built a membership of almost 800 people and held seven neighborhood and citywide planning assemblies.
What is the relationship between Boston Ujima Project and Boston Impact Initiative?
Boston Ujima Project and Boston Impact Initiative are sister organizations working towards an aligned vision and employing distinct and complementary strategies. BII Fund is an integrated capital fund focused on closing the racial wealth divide in Eastern Massachusetts. From 2013 to 2017, BII ran a pilot fund that deployed $3 million across 30 investments. In 2017, they launched a charitable loan fund, which has since raised $7 million toward the same investment thesis.
Has Ujima made any investments so far?
Through the Pilot Investment day, Ujima members voted to invest in five local Black & immigrant-owned businesses using the Kiva Investment Platform, who have been paying their loans back since then.
Why is Ujima looking for both investment and donation/grant capital?
Resources transformation. Donations and grants help resource the development of a model for democratic investment that could transform finance and help create more equitable cities across the country.
Strengthens our ecosystem. Donations and grants help us grow and strengthen a powerful ecosystem. Ujima is advancing many interconnected strategies including business support, financial education, arts and cultural organizing, and youth engagement.
Sustains our community. Donations and grants help us build towards long term sustainability. At the core of Ujima's vision is a future where our communities' have the resources and power to own our own land, our own businesses, and our own culture. Grassroots gifts from our network of supporters are the only way we will get there.
Are there other examples like Ujima?
Boston Impact Initiative is Ujima’s sister fund in Boston, investing in enterprises throughout Eastern Massachusetts with an integrated capital approach and a focus on closing the racial wealth gap.
The Working World combines non-extractive finance and tailor-made business support to build cooperative businesses in low-income communities. They also host the Peer Network and Financial Cooperative, which brings together place-based organizations from around the country (including Ujima!) to build a national infrastructure of cooperative lending and non-extractive finance.
The Buen Vivir Fund, hosted by Thousand Currents, funds community-led solutions in the global south, and utilizes local lending practices that prioritize community wellbeing rather than capital accumulation.
The Mondragon Corporation is a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives based in the Basque region of Spain, which has been around for over a half century and powerfully exemplifies Ujima’s ecosystem approach.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI’s) are nonprofit financial institutions which provide affordable lending to benefit low-wealth communities across the United States.
Participatory budgeting processes, are a great example of implementing and scaling a system for community governance of resource allocation to improve quality of life for all.
What is the chance that I’ll lose my money?
How much should I invest?
We encourage you to check out the Personal Finance Worksheet, which is an educational tool to help you think through how much makes sense for you to invest. The Worksheet also has a list of local investment advisors that you can reach out to for additional support. Ujima is not an investment advisor and cannot provide personalized investment advice, however we do encourage you not to invest beyond your means.
Can I invest through an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)?
Many investors choose to hold a portion of their assets in a Self Directed IRA, which is an IRA held by a custodian who is willing to hold alternative assets for you. Since the Ujima Fund is not traded on traditional security exchanges, it is an alternative asset. There are many Self Directed IRA providers and we recommend getting help from an advisor to select one that makes most sense for your investment needs. Please note that many Self Directed IRAs do not invest in anything as alternative as Ujima, so check with them before moving your assets.
Can I sell my Ujima investment to another investor?
Nope! Ujima notes are illiquid and non-transferrable.
I don’t have anything except for a savings account. Is this for me?
There are a few reasons you might not have investments and none of them exclude you from being involved with Ujima. You may be paying down debts, just starting out saving, or you may feel unsure of how to invest so you just kept your money in the bank. Often the question is not whether or not it’s a good fit, but how much investment is a good fit. If you a working class resident of Massachusetts, the minimum investment amount is only $50. If you’re not, the minimum investment is $1000. This may be a barrier or still not make financial sense for you, in which case we absolutely still want you to be involved! You can become a member and an organizer or make a donation instead of an investment.
What's the difference between an accredited and a non-accredited investor?
An accredited investor is a person or a business entity who is allowed to deal in securities that may not be registered with financial authorities. They are entitled to this access if they satisfy one (or more) requirements regarding income, net worth, asset size, governance status or professional experience. Accredited investors include natural high net worth individuals, banks, insurance companies, brokers and trusts.
Read more from Morgan Lewis.
I have a question I don't see here. How can I ask someone?
We'd love to hear from you! With questions specific to investment, please reach out to invest_at_ujimaboston.com. With other questions, please reach out to info_at_ujimaboston.com.