How do I develop a community financed community food enterprise development platform?
Chris Lindstrom commented
Another approach is the SHARE model developed by the Schumacher Society. A way for citizens to work with existing banks or credit unions and have a say over the direction of capital by collectively guaranteeing loans.
leslie schaller commented
I would scan your environment and look for existing Community Development Finance Institutions or Microfinance organizations. Are they currently lending to local food businesses? Do they have partnerships with with angel venture networks? Perhaps a percentage could be targeted for local food enterprises or even very specific for infrastructure.
Elizabeth Ü commented
Without knowing more about your situation it's hard to say, but I'd suspect it would be MUCH easier to work with existing CDFIs (or other lenders) to encourage them to do more work in community food enterprise rather than start a new financial institution... for instance, if you have willing investors and funders in the community, you might see if the existing lenders would be willing to consider a new food lending program if there were several new accounts opened to serve as first-loss reserves and/or collateral to secure those loans.
See in particular the PV Grows project, for which low-cost capital to start the infrastructure finance fund was provided by two foundations: http://www.buylocalfood.com/page.php?id=325. The Equal Exchange CD at what used to be Wainwright Bank was an interesting example of a community-secured loan to one company. Since Eastern Bank took over Wainwright Bank I can't find any info about that program on their website, but here are some details from Equal Exchange: http://www.equalexchange.coop/eecd
And it's also possible that existing organizations would appreciate support in providing the technical assistance rather than having to "compete" with a new organization introduced to provide similar services; it will depend on what's already happening in your community.
Jeffrey Scott commented
Instead of starting just one community food enterprise, our community wants to help start, grow and sustain a myriad of community food enterprises to help develop the gaps in our emerging local food economy. We feel that food entrepreneurs will need access to business development training and access to community based capital and credit. Is the CDFI the way to go? Can the CDFI be an L3C? We want to invest in the enterprise development infrastructure as a primary goal.