Margot Brandenburg

The Nathan Cummings Foundation


Margot Brandenburg

Project Summary: The focus of this project is to support the development of enterprise models in service of social and environmental change. It will specifically work with the staff of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) to develop a business plan and prototype for, as well as with the Community Foundation of New Jersey on the development of a business and financial model for climate change resilience insurance. The exploration of these two specific enterprises will take place within a broader analysis of the opportunities and challenges of using social enterprise and impact investing to advance the mission of NCF.

Context:  My fellowship project would be to incubate two ‘social enterprises’, Faircare and Resilience Insurance. They both share the dual goals of profitability and social impact, but they otherwise differ in a number of ways. Faircare is a matching service between domestic workers and values-driven employers who need nannies, elder caregivers or housekeepers. The service would accomplish multiple goals: it would represent a source of valuable information and services to families struggling to meet their care obligations; provide domestic workers with access to responsible employers who offer decent working conditions; and benefit NDWA by generating earned revenue for the organization as well as serving as a mechanism for member recruitment and engagement. In addition, would serve as a “high road” business model that highlights the role of fair US labor conditions, an issue that is largely absent from the recent trends in values-based consumption. Resilience Insurance is a combined construction and insurance facility designed to make vulnerable communities more better able to withstand hurricanes and other extreme weather events. It has the potential to be applied in a number of locations, but I am focused on testing this approach in six states in the Southeast and Gulf Coast regions of the United States.

Provocative Proposition: Both and Resilience Insurance are social enterprises that have the potential to transform the way services are delivered to vulnerable communities, and the way government and membership organizations seek to empower their constituents.  

Bio:  Prior to becoming a Fellow, Margot Brandenburg was a Senior Associate Director and Team Leader at the Rockefeller Foundation. She worked on program initiatives that pertain broadly to economic development and low-wage workers, including managing the Foundation’s impact investing initiative. She has also been responsible for an initiative on green jobs, which focuses on models for using energy efficiency retrofits and other areas of the clean economy to create and sustain good jobs for low-income workers at scale.

Prior to joining the foundation, Ms. Brandenburg worked in the fields of microfinance and community development finance.  She has held positions at Shorebank, the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) and the African Development Bank, and has advised microfinance and community development institutions in the US and Africa.  She also chairs the Board of Brooklyn Cooperative Credit Union and is Adjunct Faculty at the Stern School of Business at NYU.