Who is The Abundance Foundation, Slow Money NC’s fiscal sponsor?
The Abundance Foundation is a 501(c)3 focused on local food, renewable fuel, and building community. It has some experience in the field of micro-lending, and its board of directors welcomed the opportunity to be the fiscal sponsor of Slow Money NC. The goal of Slow Money NC is to get richer as a foodshed, and do it with as few organizational expenses as possible.
Who’s in charge?
The Slow Money NC project was founded by Carol Peppe Hewitt, business owner/small business consultant, author, and local food activist, Lyle Estill, author, entrepreneur, and founder and owner of Piedmont Biofuels, and Jordan Puryear, visionary, founder and “CEO” of the Shakori Hill GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, who is also committed to promoting sustainability in every way. This trio is the driving force that got the Slow Money NC project off the ground. Many supporters offer guidance and expertise in legal and financial matters, help with marketing efforts to attract investors and loan recipients, review borrower profiles, and handle dozens of other odds and ends. Carol handles the day to day operations – meaning she is the primary “match-maker,” and emails to Slow Money really go straight to her. We also have a few delightful volunteers and we encourage your input and involvement as well.
How can I help?
Please join us. Sign the Slow Money Principles and make a donation of any amount to help us catalyze even more loans. Send us an email that you’d like to receive notice of our gatherings. Offer to make a Slow Money loan. Ask about how to get a loan. Start a new business that helps our community improve its resilience. Help get the word out. Do some legwork. Share our story.
When I donate, where does my money go?
Good question. We pay the Abundance Foundation to administer our bank account, maintain transparent fiscal records, etc. We might cover mileage to lead gatherings as Slow Money NC expands around the state, or buy some local food from the restaurant that hosts us. We occasionally use our website guru if we get in a tough spot. We pay for a few hours of administrative help so Carol doesn’t pull all her hair out. And we would like to build up some reserves to use, should we ever have a borrower who runs into difficulty with their payments. We keep our expenses very low, but only with donations can we can keep making loans happen.
I have a little money saved for my retirement; should I place it with you?
No. Money placed in Slow Money NC will be lent out to individuals who are doing start-up businesses or expansions. They may be risky ventures, and things you might not be able to retire on. While to date, the loans have performed very well, if you want to make a Slow Money loan, make sure it is discretionary money that you can afford to lose.
How are you qualified to handle my money?
We are not. We have a deep seated belief that we can use capital to increase the resilience of our local economy, and we feel we need to try to do something. “Financing ourselves is where we receive the lowest marks as a community,” says Lyle Estill, author of Small is Possible, Life in a Local Economy. So, this project seeks to address that need. We are not “money managers,” or “loan officers,” or even particularly skilled in finance. But we know people. And we have built successful ventures the hard way. We know the local food players in our community. And we understand business in Chatham County. Finally, we have some time on our hands, so we want to give this a try.
We all work together, and we only have small amounts of money between us. Can we pool our resources to make a Slow Money loan?
Yes and no. Each loan is set up with a Promissory Note between the lender and the borrower, who meet in person to determine the terms of the loan and complete the paperwork. All our loans have been $500 or more (with most between $2000 and $10,000) so we ask lenders to be willing to pledge at least $1000. But there are exceptions. One group of five people pooled their resources, loaning $6000 to TS Designs to get enough to buy the organic cotton coming off the field. Several of our borrowers have multiple lenders, with separate promissory notes, and they make payments to each one on different months. If you and your office colleagues or friends want to pool your resources and lend them out, we will try to find a way to make that work. You might find a grateful baker drops off some loaves in appreciation.
What about taxes? Do I have to pay income tax on the interest I receive from my loans?
Yes. The taxman will collect until you die. Maybe even after that. We are not sure…
What’s the long term vision?
“Enhance food security, food safety and food access; improve nutrition and health; promote cultural, ecological and economic diversity; and accelerate the transition from an economy based on extraction and consumption to an economy based on preservation and restoration.”
This project has the potential to change the way money moves within every community in the USA and beyond, to the benefit of the people and the natural world they live in. At the global level, with your help, we can build the networks, the products and the services that will allow us to reach our goal: 1 million people investing 1% of their money in local food systems by 2020! Our local vision is to keep working out the details to be more effective, humane, and easy to replicate.
Pass the word and help us spread Slow Money throughout North Carolina. Join our Slow Money NC network, and let’s all be one of that million that makes the difference!