Around the country people are talking about Slow Money, and staging conversations about the importance of investing in their local foodsheds. At the national level Slow Money is becoming a powerful force in affordable financing that feeds its citizens healthy, safe, agriculturally-sustainable, locally-grown foods.
In North Carolina, Slow Money NC is putting these ideas into action. As of June, 2013, over 80 loans have been made to 40 Slow Money North Carolina food entrepreneurs and/or local food businesses around the state totaling over $720K.
Here is how it works:
#1. We encourage you to start by signing the Slow Money principles. Stand up and be counted as someone who wants to make a difference in this wacky world of irrational investing.
#2. We would be thrilled if you made a donation to Slow Money NC through our fiscal sponsor, The Abundance Foundation, to help us keep catalyzing these loans! We rely almost entirely on donations from fine people like you. When a committed group of people do something small it can make a very big difference.
#3. Invest directly in your local foodshed. Let us know you would like to make a loan. How much would you like to allocate for Slow Money loans in your community? Slow Money NC members with available capital may choose to make loans (a minimum of $1000 is requested, as most loans range from $2000-$30,000) to individuals with worthwhile projects that reflect the Slow Money mission. Slow Money NC lenders usually earn a 2-4% rate of interest on those loans. Their nurture capital will be lent to borrowers that they select. No fees are charged; we just grovel for donations. We invite both lender and borrower to “pay it forward,” if they wish, so Slow Money NC and our fiscal sponsor, The Abundance Foundation, can cover administrative costs and allow us to keep facilitating these loans.
Submitting the Lender Information Form simply lets us know you are interested so we can send you information about individuals who have projects that you might like to loan to. Lenders are welcome to become as involved as they wish in the process of recruiting and screening potential borrowers of their funds, but it is always entirely the lender’s decision as to how their money is loaned – to whom, and together with the borrower – over what payback period. That means you decide who you wish to lend money to and for how long. We just help you learn about viable, exciting, local food farms/businesses that need capital to get started or to expand.
If a loan fails, the capital is lost. Dollars put into Slow Money loans should be considered “at risk.” That said, in our experience, these types of local, direct loans perform very well.
Moreover, if we each invested just 1% of our portfolios in enhancing our local food systems the change would be extraordinary. Our money could quickly go to work enriching our lives, instead of the lives of faraway bankers.
#4. Tell us about your local food project that needs financing. It’s easy. Just complete a Borrower Information Form on this website. We will give it a look, and contact you if we have any questions. We will also forward your information to potential lenders, and let you know when we do. Interested lenders are matched directly with individual borrowers. Together the lender and borrower agree upon an interest rate (usually 2-4%) and length of the loan. They sign a Promissory Note detailing their agreement – the amount of the loan, the length of the payback period, and the interest rate, amortized over the agreed period of the loan. A copy of the note is given to the lender, another to the borrower, and the third is filed in the Abundance Foundation office.
Usually loans will be made for one(1) to five(5) year terms, and kept to maximum of ten thousand ($10K) per loan. Larger loans have been made, including one loan for $400K which was shared among sixteen lenders. To discuss your loan idea, you are welcome to contact Carol Peppe Hewitt at Slow Money NC directly.
#5. Support your local food enterprises, and certainly the ones that receive Slow Money financing. Money grows in circles, and we can all be part of promoting an ethical, sustainable local economy through a program that offers an alternative to investing-as-usual, and promote an economy that is restorative, rather than extractive, or exploitative to our communities and our planet.
#6. Help us find folks that could benefit from a Slow Money loan. Just send them to the Borrower Information Form. Share our stories and share the wealth of this viable, invaluable new economic paradigm that keeps our financial resources, our dollars, working right here in our community, feeding our bodies and our souls. Tell everyone you know about the availability of low-interest Slow Money loans and technical support for local sustainable food enterprises, for as Barbara Streisand is credited with saying, “Money is like manure. It’s no good unless you spread it around!”
#6. Reconnect with a portion of the money that you entrusted to strangers in faraway places and, instead, help build a more local, durable economy from the soil up! When you make a loan to a farmer or other local food enterprises so they can expand and flourish, you can truly enjoy the fruits of their labor. If you include “meaning” in your investment metric, you will find making Slow Money loans offers insanely wonderful returns.
#8 Additional Slow Money NC Local Groups
Slow Money NC started in Pittsboro, NC. Once we had some experience getting loans made, we started sharing our story with people from across the state who wanted to get Slow Money moving in their community. As these local groups are forming, we plan to publish their activities here as well. You will find loans made in Southern Pines, Tarboro, Cedar Grove, Brevard, and Asheville and more on our loan page. And there is a drop-down menu of several of the emerging local groups’ activities.
If you are interested in getting something started in your community, please contact us. We would be happy to help.