Q & A

Who’s in charge?

The Slow Money NC project was founded on May 20, 2010, by Carol Peppe Hewitt, small business owner, author, and local food activist, along with Lyle Estill, author and serial entrepreneur,  and their good friend, Jordan Puryear, visionary, founder and “CEO” of the Shakori Hill GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, an organization committed to promoting sustainability (and great music and good fun) in every way. This trio was the driving force that got the Slow Money NC project off the ground.

Since then many others have offered support, guidance and expertise in legal and financial matters, help with marketing efforts to attract investors and loan recipients, reviewed borrower profiles, and handled dozens of other odds and ends. Carol directs the day to day operations, with a few hours a week of help from Kathleen Conroy and Amy Campbell Bogle.

We welcome volunteers and folks who can help spread the word about the Slow Money NC movement.

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. BUY food grown by local farmers! 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 have a remarkably small budget given the impact we are having by sheperding funds to local farm/food enterprises. There are dozens of each emails each day, and calls and personal meetings – we try to be wherever we can be to network with potential lenders and borrowers. This is a “high touch” operation so we get out as much as we can to food/farm conferences, farmers markets, agricultural events. In a perfect world we would pay Carol, our Executive Director (Chief of Fun) a big salary. We do manage a small monthly stipend. We have a few hours of admin staff support so Carol doesn’t pull all her hair out – for bookkeeping to maintain transparent fiscal records, to create  google docs to track donations, thank you letters, loan activity, various reports, etc. We might cover mileage for staff to lead gatherings as Slow Money NC travels 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.  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. Slow Money NC loans might be lent out to individuals who may not have sophisticated business plans, or great credit scores. They may be risky ventures, dependent on weather and the well-being of the the local economy. But you, the lender always are the one deciding who you want to loan to, as you will have formed a personal/friendly relationship with them before you make a loan. 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 have made many of these loans ourselves and know how rewarding and impact-ful this process can be. And we have built successful ventures the hard way. We know the local food players in our community, and we think this can work.  Finally, we have some time on our hands, so we decided 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. Our  loans have been $500 or more (with most between $2000 and $10,000.)  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.

Can’t I just donate the money and you make the loans?

Again, yes and no……

Finally, since 2017, seven years after we launched Slow Money NC in 2010, we found a way to say YES to this question. Enter the SOIL NC Fund! Charitable donations get pooled into a 0% interest revolving loan fund. We are delighted to say YES and invite to read all about our SOIL NC Fund here! For 2018 we have suspended this project until we get enough monthly Sustainers to keep our staff employed

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 benefit 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 each be one of that million that makes the difference!