GUEST Rene Vargas Martinez

Hurricane Maria and other storms in Puerto Rico have destroyed their power grid system but also their economy. Cooperativas (Puerto Rican credit unions) have had an incredible impact on the stability and recovery of communities in the aftermath. On today’s episode, Rene Vargas Martinez and Mark Ritter discuss how Puerto Rico’s cooperativas and Inclusiv are working to make a difference in their local communities. Learn about the history of the cooperativa moment and how you can help support it as well as Inclusiv.


  • [01:31] Mark gives an update on the industry
  • [05:33] Rene introduces himself and gives his backstory
  • [9:14] Who is Inclusiv?
  • [15:01] The impact of hurricanes on Puerto Rico in general and financially
  • [19:19] Rene explains the two types of credit unions in Puerto Rico and what the average credit union looks like there
  • [26:19] The outlook for cooperativas over the next few years
  • [29:52] How US credit unions can support Inclusiv and the Puerto Rican cooperativa movement


  • Multiple hurricanes in Puerto Rico have destroyed their power grids and economies. Cooperativas play a big part in the stability and empowerment of low to moderate-earning individuals.
  • There is some misconception about cooperativas because they are not federally backed. In reality, they are even more secure and have incredible buy-in.
  • Here are some ways to support Inclusiv and the Puerto Rican cooperativa movement:
    • See if you are eligible for CDFI and join Inclusiv.
    • Hire bilingual staff to be able to cooperate with Puerto Rican cooperativas.
    • Offer shared services for members with a partnership.
    • Share notes and technology, as well as industry information.
    • Educate others about the misconceptions with cooperativas. Be the bridge.


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Rene Vargas Martinez is the director of Puerto Rico Credit Unions for Inclusiv. A native of the island, Rene is passionate about helping the cooperativas serve the local communities. Inclusiv is a trade association dedicated to closing the gaps and removing barriers to financial opportunities for distressed and underserved communities.

Mark Ritter is the CEO of MBFS and an expert in credit unions and business lending. His primary role at MBFS is overseeing the strategy of helping credit unions assist members with business needs and consulting with credit unions on planning the delivery of services to their membership.

Mark Ritter Website

Mark Ritter on LinkedIn