For nearly five decades Southern Mutual Help Association has removed the barriers keeping individuals, families and communities from participating as equal and valued participants in critical policy conversations that impact their lives.

To do this, SMHA transforms existing institutions when they don’t work for families and communities, and creates institutions when needed where none existed before. We work hand-in-hand with the organizations and institutions we create, building capacity, transferring competencies, and creating linkages… and then we step back. This has been our approach for founding seven other organizations and institutions, creating more than $500 million in value.

To learn more about SMHA’s transformational work with institution building, click here.

Some examples of the institutions we’ve helped to establish:

Historically, this is how Southern Mutual Help Association operates. We create the infrastructure that allows for equitable prosperity for all, now and in the future.

To address inadequate access to credit and financing in the fishing sector along the Gulf Coast – especially following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Irma, and Harvey as well as the BP spill – SMHA is working together with the private sector, lawmakers and fishing groups to establish the Gulf Coast Fishers Loan Fund. The GCFLT is a $20 million multi-state initiative that puts in place new infrastructure through which banks can lend to previously unreachable fisher businesses while elevating fishers’ stature as expert first-responders and traditional stewards of the coast.

SMHA’s approaches and responses shift and grow over time and context. What remains consistent is that SMHA pioneers new models of ownership, seeks win-win solutions that bring together all sides, and finds new models to fill endemic gaps between what communities have and what they need.

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