Fifty years of friendship and finance – meet Cath Muller

Today in our series of interviews looking back over 50 years of friendship and finance, we meet Cath Muller of Radical Routes, a mutual aid network of co-ops committed to working for radical social change.

One of the things we do at Radical Routes is make loans to our Members using money invested by the public. Many of our Members would not be able to get started or develop without the financial support we provide as most conventional banks are not prepared to lend to the kind of project we aim to support. Over the years we have lent over £1.5 Million to member co-ops without any bad debts.

Radical Routes started in the mid-80s and had started making loans by the time my co-op joined in the mid-90s. ICOF has handled the admin and back office of the loans for us for more than 20 years and I’ve always enjoyed meeting up with them at events and conferences.

I remember hanging out with Ian Rothwell at a Worker Co-op Weekend – possibly the first one? – and we had a nice long chat about his worker co-op experience in Hiziki Wholefood Collective, a fantastic wholefoods shop in Nottingham. We walked and talked politics and it was really nice to find our political connecting points. That’s one of the great things about being around co-ops people – they get where you are coming from. Understanding that people have got into finance – which seems incredibly legalised and stuck inside a capitalist, patriarchal system – in order to create autonomy and challenge inequality – that’s why we organise as worker co-operatives.

I’ve hung out with the CCF team at Future Co-ops and Congress too – I remember a quiz where Ian got pretty excited about being able to ask so many questions about coop finance, and at Congress once, Radical Routes hadn’t managed to get a stall, so we were trying to get rid of stuff out of a suitcase, which the crew were happy to have next to the ICOF table. How very co-operative!

Happy birthday ICOF – a very many happy returns to you. Happy Birthday!