It’s been a busy summer for the Slow Money NW management committee. We’d like to share a little about what we’ve been working on since we last connected.
Needing an investment is quite different than being ready to present a business and manage investor expectations. Slow Money NW (SMNW) has been working hard in a few fronts to find businesses ready for investment, and matching them with the best next step.
SMNW has spent the last year tightening the expectations and reality of what an all-volunteer organization can accomplish. We have participated in many phone, email, and physical meetings surrounding the notions of connecting food and farm businesses to interested investors. This work culminates towards two main avenues of engagement.
Existing Food and Farm Businesses
This past year SMNW has fielded numerous queries from established businesses seeking investment. We spend time with each business to find out more about their needs, who they have already approached and with what success, read the business plan and financials, then suggest and align them to the best next step. For some this means connecting them with one of the banks, credit unions, or other investment companies we know; for others this means connecting them to what we know call Angel Professionals who help them tighten up their plans and financials; for some this has meant suggesting some more thought and time be spent on the business plan and to contact us again when they have answered the known questions. Our Oct 10th Food and Farm Investor Network Meeting is the visible portion of this work and represents what we feel are companies who are ready to present to investors. We hope you will attend!
From the USDA Ag Census, through major media outlets to CSAs and farmers markets you will see the recurring theme that younger people are (finally!) attracted to farming. With this growth comes a need to identify and engage the best ideas and businesses for our future farming generations. But all of this innovation comes at high risk, especially when you combine new farmers with new ideas. SMNW continues to work in this space by researching and meeting with various established regional lending institutions to explain the need and opportunity, and to create a solid network of lenders interested in engaging in this space. Some lenders, like the NW Farm Credit Services, have established new farmer loan programs that we can help by making noise (like this posting). Others have expressed strong interest if some entity can provide loan guarantees. To this end, SMNW is in the planning stage with local lending institutions to develop a vehicle used to provide guarantees so that existing lenders can do more of their work on our mission. This is a classic win-win: the institution gets new business and SMNW does not have to manage loans. If you’re interested in the concept or have expertise to lend, please contact us.