Is your local food and farm enterprise looking for accessible capital?
The Fair Finance Fund (FFF) is now fully operational and accepting applications from entrepreneurs across the food system who are looking to create social, environmental and economic benefits.
“I’m really excited about the fund because the impact is going to be exponentially greater than the actual dollar amounts invested,” shares Sarah Bakker, farmer and General Manager of the National Farmers Union- Ontario.
The full revolving loan program was launched last month in April 2019 following a successful pilot phase, which issued two fruitful loans at the beginning of the year to Kipling Ridge Farms in Verner ON and Mulberry Moon Farm in Strathroy ON.
Kipling Ridge Farms sought out the Fair Finance Fund to receive capital to start their fruit orchard business, which includes apples that can thrive in more Northern climates. Mulberry Moon Farm received capital to re-start their farm operation at a new location, which included digging a new well, installing a new hydro pole, building a packhouse, and purchasing equipment. Learn more about these success stories here.
Ultimately, the innovative fund is supporting the future of local food in Ontario, helping the sector thrive by addressing a significant gap in financial support available to the local food and farm sector.
Last year, the FFF completed a survey that received responses from over 450 food or farm enterprises, showing that access to capital for such enterprises is indeed limited. Only 25% of entrepreneurs surveyed in the sector are able to rely on conventional financing (many use credit cards or family loans to operate their business). Among the respondents, the need over the next five years for debt financing is estimated at around $9 million. At the same time, impact investors reported challenges in identifying opportunities for their impact investment funds.
The numbers speak for themselves. A total of over $1 million in loan requests have already been submitted, and four loans have already been approved and allocated. Applicants offered a total of $504,000 in equity financing in the sector, as well as $473,000 in other leveraged financing to support their projects, representing over 2 million in supported projects — a significant economic impact for the sector. Of course, the loans will also help create new jobs in the sector.
And clients that receive funding are tracking their environmental benefits, from soil health and reduced irrigation to biodiversity and farmland preservation.
If you’re a social enterprise in the local food and farm sector looking for financing, be sure to visit the Fair Finance Fund here: https://fairfinancefund.org/loans
If you’re a potential impact investor who wants to know more, visit the FFF site here:
The Fair Finance Fund was developed collaboratively by the Local Food and Farm Co-ops (LFFC) and the Rural Agri-Innovation Network at Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (RAIN). Incorporated as a non-profit, the FFF meets a need for mid-scale financing ($20,000 to $100,000) and can support larger financing needs through co-financing arrangements.