John Berdes, the CEO of Craft3, lost his life to lung cancer and we are deeply bereaved. John was Our friend, partner, and mentor. We loved him. He was a brilliant visionary who worked his whole life to build just and equitable finance for communities.
We met John almost three years ago. He pinged CSC and said, matter-of-factly:
I would be interested in sitting down sometime and figuring out what possible synergies there are between us. We seem to share some core beliefs.
Who could resist? That was the beginning of a beautiful collaboration and friendship. A delightful aspect of working with John was how he wrote. In the follow-on to our first meeting, he sent this morsel embedded in a list of what he could offer to CSC:
3. I am personally available to provide depressing perspectives and irrefutable truths (and generally opine on your considerable options).
Yup. That was John. We learned that his depressing perspectives were pretty much right on, and his irrefutable truths, well, despite our best efforts, they turned out to be just that.
John wanted to accelerate our brand of healthy community capital and he put 500,000 of Craft3’s dollars to work on our platform. He recognized the power of community based finance and supported Squareholders by matching their Squares one to one. Craft3 matching capital has built larger loans for 40 small businesses in Oregon and Washington.
John wasn’t only generous, he was also tough. He challenged us every step of the way– to do more for small community businesses (especially those left out of the financial system), to do it responsibly, and to build our business in a way that was sustainable so we too would survive. Sometimes it was tough to hear his perspectives. And often that was just what we needed.
In his frank way, shortly before he died, John said:
I’m not here to read tributes, just stories of love and life.
And so, John, this is not a tribute, but a love story.