Slow Money Thriving in Oregon

Community investing efforts are growing across the Pacific Northwest! There are various LION networks in the region, different crowdsourcing efforts, and two formal networks in Oregon that have organized around Slow Money.

WFFC_circle_logoSouth Willamette Valley
Inspired by a visit from Woody Tasch to the University of Oregon in early 2013, a few attendees set out to help build resilience in their local food and farming economy. They went on to form Slow Money South Willamette Valley with a mission to catalyze low-interest loans to local, sustainable food and farming businesses in their region.  

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Slow Money SWV had their first public gathering in December 2013 where they catalyzed 3 loans to local food and farming entrepreneurs. In just over a year, they’ve catalyzed 10 loans totaling over $98K through a peer to peer lending format. 

For more info about SMSWV contact Erin Ely at erin@slowmoneyswv.org.

SOSlowMoneySouthern Oregon
Farther south in the Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon has its own network appropriately named SO Slow Money.

SO Slow Money had their 2nd annual Home Grown Finance event on August 5th with several local emerging farm successes. They brought in $47,500 in private Slow Money seed investments last year and 4 of the 8 companies currently in their summer accelerator came through SO Slow Money.

We are incredibly excited for the future of local sustainable farming in Oregon thanks to these sustainable food champions. These fellow Cascadians are “bringing people together around a shared vision. It starts with the soil, entrepreneurs are the seeds and Investors are the water.”

For more info about SO SLow Money contact Rosetta Shaw at rosetta@svtg.org.

Rockefeller Reports

The Rockefeller Foundation has been investigating the Social and Economic Equity in US Food and Agriculture Systems. As part of this work they have generated a series of intriguing reports with the most relevant beingBridging the Gap: Funding and Social Equity Across the Food System Supply Chain. As explained at their website, “This report examines the current state of funding for addressing the problems in the food system and promotes the goals and the vision for a healthier food system. It analyzes where capital is flowing and where it is not flowing, and what kinds of approaches are needed to increase the flow and effectiveness of capital where gaps currently exist. RSF Social Finance, a Slow Money ally, managed the report. View the report …

Job Opportunities at Angelic Organics

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Angelic Organics, a farm incubator and training program in Caledonia, Illinois, has two openings for motivated organic farm professionals.

Half-time Farm Finance Program Coordinator to help beginning farmers improve the economic viability of their farms through increased access to capital and financial products as well as supporting farmers in building business and financial management skills.

 

Go to http://www.learngrowconnect.org/ for more information and to apply.

New Matching Funds Available for Beginning Farmers

We have teamed up with our friends at Cascade Harvest Coalition to create Seeds of Success, a program for beginning farmers to help beginning farmers and ranchers build assets and grow their businesses.
Nationwide, we’re facing an aging farming population, rising demand for local food, and scarcity of opportunity in rural communities. In order to change the system, we need to support and empower beginning farmers and ranchers in achieving their financial. We believe that this program will be a step in the right direction.  Participating farmers and ranchers can receive up to $5,000 in matching funds which can be used to purchase farm equipment, livestock and land. Please check out our Seeds of Success Program Page to learn more about becoming a participant, partner, or sponsor.

Why Does SMNW only do Accredited Investor Only meetings?

To date Slow Money NW has been one of the most sure successful regional chapters in the national Slow Money efforts. Part of that success is because we have have tried to ensure that our efforts were legal and targeted towards what businesses and investors said they needed. Since opening its doors our  in 2010, we have provided business development assistance to 40 WA and OR based businesses and successfully helped 7 businesses secure investments of  about $5  million. We now have a track record that is attracting financial contributions to do more work, but not yet enough to do all that we want to do.

Gearing up for another accredited investor meeting is always fun and challenging because on the one hand we are directly connecting investors with businesses, and on the other hand excluding people who are not accredited investors. The fun and excitement comes from knowing that good people have good businesses worth hearing, and that good people want to help and invest in good businesses working to grow our regional food economy.

There are two federal legal restrictions on public access to private business investment opportunities: that investors be aware of the risks and resilient to the potential losses; and that we only invite investors with whom we have an existing relationship.

First, accred-only events are exclusionary. The SEC has a clear definition of who is, and therefore who is not, an accredited investor. The quick and simplified reason for these classifications basically dates back to the 1920’s when ‘snake oil’ salesman sold uninformed investors items that sounded really good but cost people their life savings, their retirement, their homes. Rules were set in place during the Depression to make sure that people who invested directly in private businesses (compared to public stock exchange listed companies and mutual funds) understood the risks and could afford to make them. Second, violations of these restrictions include public announcement of the investment opportunities, such as posting the details of the companies presenting on our web site. This is why you do not see our current presentation meetings on our website, and why it is only seen through our direct email invitation. For more information about who may receive invitations and attend events, please contact us directly.

For those that do not meet the SEC definition above, and do not have an existing relationship with Slow Money NW, and want to help transform the regional food system, see our post Beyond Accredited Investor Options on ways that you can get involved. Thanks for your patience as we build out what we have started and continue to create innovative, safe, and legal opportunities for people to connect to the businesses we all want to grow.