Slow Money Wisconsin
Reported by Beth Gehred.
Funded six entrepreneurs over the past 12 months for an approximate investment total of $600,000.
|Bill Anderson, of Crème de la Coulée, offering Wisconsin Artisan Cheeses made from raw pastured milk.
Slow Money Wisconsin (SMW) is building a track record as it finds its place in the state’s food and finance ecosystem. Since spring 2013, Slow Money Wisconsin/LION Business and Investor Showcase participants have raised more than $600,000.
“The Showcase was the catalyst for the bulk of the investment I received,” says Bartlett Durand, the entrepreneur behind Black Earth Meats, a USDA-inspected and Animal Welfare Approved processing facility with organic certification from the Iowa Department of Agriculture. “$375,000 can be directly tied to the Showcase, with $75,000 from people I met at the meeting, and $300,000 from those who had me on a watch list and then saw that I was presenting and stepped up their process.” Black Earth Meats provides meat to many restaurants, retailers, and cafeterias in Southern Wisconsin; the investment funds also helped Bartlett open a fresh meat retail outlet in Madison: The Conscious Carnivore, which sells healthfully raised, humanely treated, locally harvested, and helpfully traded beef, pork, lamb, and poultry.
Showcase benefits extended even beyond monetary investment, say Adrian Reif and Matt D’Amour, owners of Yumbutter, a B-Corporation that manufactures nut butters: “[We appreciated] the opportunity to fine-tune our plan, develop a great mentor, and continue building the buzz around our company and world-changing mission.” Since the Showcase and Accelerator, Yumbutter attracted investment to expand its Buy One:Feed One business model, ran a successful crowd-funding campaign, launched a new product line, and is increasing its distribution network to position itself for growth and profitability.
|Adrian Reif and Matt D’Amour, Yumbutter
• 2013 Showcase presenter Gilbert Williams of Lonesome Stone Milling increased his capacity to process Wisconsin-grown grains by receiving conventional financing to purchase land for building a warehouse. Williams spoke at the 2014 Showcase, held March 27–28, where attributed his progress to the technical assistance he received through SMW’s partnership with University of Wisconsin–Extension’s Food and Finance Institute.
|Gilbert Williams of Lonesome Stone Milling, a processor of locally grown and freshly stone-ground organic wheat, rye, and corn products from southwest Wisconsin
• The 2014 Showcase featured nine businesses—poSaNa organics, Blue Vista Farm (blueberries), Simply Native Foods, Badger Kraut and Pickle, Bryant Family Farm, JRS Country Acres, Underground Food Collective, MobCraft Beer, and Beepods—which are now honing their messages and working with attendees to source the capital needed for the next stage of their businesses.
As results from the Showcases percolate, the Willy Street Co-op Local Vendor Loan Fund—a groundbreaking loan fund partnership to support local food businesses—is close to announcing its first round of investments. Slow Money Wisconsin partnered with the Fund by raising capital and helping to determine how deals would be identified, evaluated, and presented. Along with SMW, the Fund’s key partners are natural food store Willy Street Co-op, a CDFI Fund, Forward Community Investments, and the University of Wisconsin–Extension. In the upcoming months, the Fund will issue $100,000 in loans to qualified Co-op vendors, who will receive technical assistance throughout the life of the loan.
Crème de la Coulée Artisan Cheese is likely to be the Fund’s first recipient. Owner Bill Anderson presented in the 2013 Showcase, wowing the crowd with his first-rate soft cheeses and his passion. Consumers embrace the young cheesemaker’s work, but he needed more working capital to expand his business. The Fund’s managers found Crème de la Coulée a good fit for their mission.
SMW also supported a three-day Food and Finance Accelerator in fall 2013. This technical assistance marathon drew aside the curtain of food finance packaging for entrepreneurs and investors alike, creating a pipeline of businesses that were in better position to apply to present this spring. One attendee, Steve Acheson of Peacefully Organic Produce and CSA, a veteran-led farm, used what he learned at the Accelerator to find conventional start-up financing.
Future SMW goals include mission-led educational and outreach activities to fund operating expenses for the formation of a 501c3. SMW’s first webinar, featuring Marco Vangelisti speaking on “Investing for the World We Want,” will be held April 24 at 7 p.m. Central Time; register by clicking here or visiting the SMW website at slowmoneywisconsin.org.
Slow Money Wisconsin is working to cultivate the ecosystem needed to build a healthful and resilient food system in the state. Investment money alone is important to bring to the table, but not the full solution. An educated and supportive citizenry, engaged conventional lenders, a web of technical assistance providers, including those focusing on financial packaging, which is hard to find anywhere else—plus mentorship and goodwill between local businesses need to be part of the vision. SMW thanks all who understand what it takes and are striving to make it happen.
Slow Money Canada
Reported by Rory Holland.
For the first time, Slow Money is gathering north of the border.
Vancouver is a food town. It’s packed with great restaurants and surrounded by local, commercial growers of all kinds. Urban market gardens occupy empty lots, rooftops, and high schools all over the city. Backyards boast veggie patches and fruit trees.
Vancouver is also an innovation hub. Dubbed “Silicon Valley North,” it’s home to hundreds of start-ups and brilliant, fresh-idea companies.
With its passion for growing both food and ideas, Vancouver is the perfect place to host an inaugural West Coast Slow Money Gathering, June 5–6, 2014. Farmers, thinkers, innovators, investors, and activists will assemble to exchange ideas, celebrate successes, plan future courses of action—and enjoy a really great party.
Set on Granville Island—in the middle of the city and the site of the biggest local food market—the program includes Keynote addresses by Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money, and Leslie Christian, an influential leader in social and environmental investing. Other highlights include an expert panel discussion on “farms, food, and finance” and a showcase of ten innovative food enterprises.
For more information or to register, click here.
Slow Money Maine
Slow Money Maine (SMM) is on the rise. In the past year, we’ve expanded our network from 650 to 892 people, and we’ve increased funding transactions from $4 million to $8.6 million—and growing! More than 80 people attend our bimonthly gatherings, and our annual daylong event in 2013 attracted a sold-out crowd of 150 people, with many more turned away, for the first time since SMM began in 2010.
Key programs facilitate this growth. We sponsor six community convenings and two investment clubs that provide community education, connection, and engagement. Through networking opportunities, presenter showcases, and updates at our regular gatherings, participants are inspired and eager to learn more about direct support of Maine food system endeavors. This support includes funding, initiating and facilitating community programs, mentoring, and connecting others with opportunities for involvement. Our investment clubs, with about 35 members combined, bring people from many Maine communities together to meet each other, as well as local farmers and producers, in order to make loans from pooled funds.
In 2014, we sponsored a new post-Camden Conference event and will host our first-ever New England regional gathering. Our volunteer coordinator and 10-member Steering Committee continue to lead the network with the skills and missionary zeal responsible for SMM’s rapid growth.