Press Release: New social finance fund supports local food and farm sector
April 8, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Fair Finance Fund fills the gap for investors and entrepreneurs from seed to supper
The Fair Finance Fund is proud to announce the launch of a new social finance fund for the local food and farm sector. The FFF is now fully operational, ready to receive applications and making a splash with impact investors. The FFF lends to social entrepreneurs across the food system who have demonstrable social and environmental benefits as well as a viable business. Every penny invested goes directly to loans. This innovative fund supports the future of local food in Ontario, from seed to supper. Sarah Bakker, farmer and General Manager of the National Farmers Union- Ontario, says "I'm really excited about the fund because the impact is going to be exponentially greater than the actual dollar amounts invested".
The Fair Finance Fund (FFF) meets a significant gap in financial support available to the local food and farm sector. Only 25% of entrepreneurs surveyed in the sector by the FFF are able to rely on conventional financing; many use credit cards or family loans to operate their business. Among survey respondents alone, the need over the next five years for debt financing is estimated at around $9 million. At the same time, impact investors (who invest based on their values and for a modest return) report challenges in identifying opportunities for their impact investment funds. Nonetheless, impact investments in Ontario reached $2.579 billion in 2015 and is growing, with interest in the food and agriculture sector also on the rise.
The Fair Finance Fund was a collaborative development project of the Local Food and Farm Co-ops (LFFC) and the Rural Agri-Innovation Network at Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (RAIN). LFFC is the provincial association for food and farm co-ops, providing training, infrastructure development, consultation and funding for food and farm co-ops, social enterprises, collectives and regional producers. The Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN) is an initiative of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) and its vision is to build a resilient farm and food sector in northern Ontario through innovative research and agricultural development projects. Incorporated as a non-profit, the FFF meets a need for mid-scale financing ($20,000- $100,000) and can support larger financing needs through co-financing arrangements.
The Fair Finance Fund is fully operational in April 2019, and looks forward to helping local food and farm entrepreneurs realize their dreams!
FFF Project Manager
RAIN/ SSMIC Project Coordinator
For PDF version of our press release, please download below